Where to begin. I could tell you that for a fortnight I have only been listening to this soundtrack and various Edgar Wright press interviews. I could list the all-star cast or pull Rotten Tomatoes scores and quotes. I could tell you that I have seen this movie five times in theater and people I haven’t met before have said to me “you are that girl who really likes Baby Driver, right?” Yes, I am that girl. No, the movie has nothing to do with a baby. Yes it is a silly name. But it is so far the biggest surprise and my favorite movie of the year, and realistically I don’t see it getting overthrown.
I had unconsciously been able to avoid trailers beforehand, all I knew is that this was a heist movie and music was involved. I was skeptical on the front about how the music would mix in. I mean Suicide Squad may as well have cherry picked songs from Shaun of the Dead (Queen, so hot right now), and I always worry that a gimmick like that could fall flat. But I shouldn’t have been worried, after all, Edgar Wright may as well be the anti-Zack Snyder. This movie is bright, the music choices are seamless, and the imagery is innovative without being overbearing.
The core of the film is getaway-driver-with-a-heart-of-gold Baby (Ansel Elgort), and his journey to get out of his life of crime. We understand his character in the first scene, as we see him cue up his music to a bank heist as he dances in the car, ready to go once the team returns. What follows is the best car chase I have maybe ever seen, exciting and inventive while managing to avoid implausible stunts we have come to be used to in the Fast and Furious franchise. This is also our first taste of how Wright is going to use music. The track in the opening shot is not only set to match Baby’s dance moves/driving maneuvers, but also syncs to the other characters actions and set pieces. Bank doors open on drum beats, sirens echo the timing of the strings; this scene (and the movie as a whole) is choreographed to the teeth. It doesn’t seem like a cheap trick to artificially engineer reactions from the audience, it is just part of the anatomy of the film. Even Wright says that it could be considered a musical.
I could go on about the music all day. I think it is a perfect soundtrack. It makes me mad to think about. I have listened to every song a million times and my roommate has to be tired of hearing my rendition of “Every Little Bit Hurts” from the shower every day. Fun anecdote time, prior to the movie being released, Edgar Wright had a moment of panic where he worried that one of his songs was going to be used in the biggest movie of the year, Guardians of the Galaxy 2. He ended up texting James Gunn back and forth asking “do you have any Queen?” “no, do you have any Fleetwood Mac?” and I think we can all agree it worked out for both of them. Personally I prefer the Baby Driver soundtrack over both Guardians soundtracks, save for maybe Moonage Daydream.
Let’s talk cast. I sold this to everyone I know on cast alone. Between the three male supporting cast members you have three Oscars, two Grammys, one Tony, and an Emmy. Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx are the backbone of the movie, bringing on screen power that gives Ansel Elgort the space to play the understated Baby. Eiza Gonzales as Darling holds her own in such a star studded room, but isn’t given the same opportunity to shine as Lily James’s Debbie, who manages to steal hearts despite her criminal lack of backstory. And as a Georgia native, I am going to call her accent passable. Not great, but not enough to take me out of it.
As for the story, I am just going to get ahead of critics here. I understand the arguments. This is a relatively classic premise. Boy meets girl, they fall in love immediately, no one has cell phones. I get that while this may not be art imitating life exactly, it doesn’t take away from my enjoyment. Who doesn’t want to believe in young stupid love? Another complaint has been that the characters (and particularly the women) are cookie cutter archetypes of action movies. I accept this mainly because Edgar Wright here does what he does best, which is to elevate a genre film. Where some characters fall short as stagnant, others thrive, especially in the third act which kicks off with an incredible foot chase scene set to a rock song with yodeling. YODELING.
Overtime my excitement/obsession may fade, but right now this is a home run. I love Edgar. 10/10.