Thoughts: Baby's got beauty, brains, and a beat
Edgar Wright's Baby Driver is a mix of action, romance, and music video. It combines its visuals and its soundtrack in a way that goes beyond complimentary; "symbiotic" might be a better term. Oh, and it may be the best movie of the year so far. Note: Spoilers ahead.
Wright is known for using music exceptionally; after all, the most memorable moments from his movies, from Shaun of the Dead to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, are forever coupled to the song playing in the background. Baby Driver is something else. The songs are intrinsic to the characters, the story, and even the cuts. Each moment is punctuated with music-- squealing tires are met with wailing guitars, gun shots are accentuated with drumbeats, and even plaintive, quiet moments are accompanied by subtle bass lines. The result is an experience more akin to a music video than an action film, yet still seems cohesive.
It would all be window dressing if all this wasn't supported by a great script, but thankfully it is. The characters are star here, and even though the familiar heist movie setup supplies the usual archetypes, the film finds ways to subvert expectations. Baby is a nuanced lead with enough nuance to go beyond the "they keep dragging me back in" cliche. The ringleader, a scene-stealing Kevin Spacey, is clever enough to make an act three heel-turn seem earned. Even the rag-tag heist team, featuring an insanely villainous Jon Hamm, is full of surprises. The only character who feels wasted is love interest-turned-partner-in-crime Lily James, who I wished had a tad more depth.
Driver delivers on the action, providing some of the most impressive stunts I've seen in quite some time. The editing is fantastically paced and never felt overly distracting. But Edgar Wright's films are never just thrilling, they're also endlessly quotable. Baby's no slouch in that department either. Between the chases, the timeless music, the witty banter, and even the tender moments of genuine heart, I can't think of anyone who'd dislike what's on offer here. Well, except for the squeamish. And maybe those who can't keep a beat.