Written and directed by Edgar Wright, most famous for the Cornetto Trilogy (comprising of Shaun of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The Wold’s End), Baby Driver combines dry British wit with a vibrant Atlanta setting. There’s music in the streets and rhythm in every movement, with each scene constantly on the brink of bursting into song – the film manages to hover deliciously between full-throttle action thriller and sensational musical.
Driven by its soundtrack, there is the sense that without it the whole film would grind to a halt – indeed, in the process of stealing a woman’s car, tinnitus-affected protagonist Baby (Ansel Elgort) frustratedly adjusts the radio before even turning on the ignition.
A getaway driver with a conscience, Baby will have you on the edge of your seat as he grapples between the honest life he dreams of leading with love interest Debora (Lily James), and the criminal deeds he must do to keep ruthless crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) off his back.
Baby’s life becomes increasingly unstable as he finds himself more deeply involved the more he tries to break loose. Behind his endless supply of sunglasses and brooding charm is a tender side that clearly won’t last in the cut-throat criminal world he is embroiled in. Baby’s inner world is bathed in vibrant colour, and as his violent associates perform heists, putting a bullet in anyone who stands between themselves and the money, Baby keeps his head safely in the clouds, his music a safety blanket that’s about to be ripped away. Baby, it seems, is the lucky charm with no luck, and our hearts go imploringly out to him.
There is just one catch to an otherwise fantastic ensemble performance – and that’s the women. How is it, I wonder, that Darling, a borderline-psychopath who treats murder as a leisure activity, holds a machine gun as apathetically as if it were cucumber? And why does Debora, a sparky and independent woman with a thirst for freedom, appear in Baby’s dreams as a black and white fifties pin-up, all starched ringlets and vapid lipsticked smile?
Baby Driver is testosterone-fuelled action thriller with a difference, boasting immensely complex characters and a mixtape soundtrack which rivals even Guardians of the Galaxy. Perhaps next time, though, the women might get a share of the fun.
Image: Gage Skidmore