By Jason Abdow
If movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Suicide Squad” have taught us anything in recent years, it is that a great or memorable movie soundtrack can help make a movie stick around in people’s minds longer than they might have initially.
This is certainly something writer/director Edgar Wright took seriously when curating the songs that would play throughout “Baby Driver,” his latest film. “Baby Driver” makes the unique decision to make the songs of its soundtrack play a direct role in the pace of the film.
Right from the first moment of the film we see the main character Baby (Ansel Elgort) behind the wheel of a getaway car, selecting the song “Bellbottoms” by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and we see the movie lineup perfectly with the beats of the song. This unique stylistic choice helps the soundtrack, which is playing over nearly every moment of this film, to take a bigger role in the film, one that soundtracks rarely ever do.
As for the film itself, the plot is fairly conventional considering just how unique the end result of the movie is. The main character Baby, who is an extremely skilled getaway driver, is forced into working for a criminal kingpin, played excellently by Kevin Spacey, and struggles to find his way out after falling in love with a young waitress (Lily James).
Like I said, this basic setup is just the foundation of a movie that will likely go down as one of, if not the most, stylish movies in 2017. Not only does the soundtrack help to choreograph the entire film, but the action set pieces are incredible throughout this film. Right from the first getaway sequence you see that Edgar Wright has worked hard to learn how to direct action, especially car chases, with perfection.
The stunt work that must have gone into this movie is insane to imagine and the fact that these moments are executed in such creative ways makes this one of the best action films of the year. Even scene of Elgort going around doing mundane things, such as getting coffee or making a sandwich, when paired with the music in the soundtrack, suddenly becomes a fun little dance routine as he moves with the beats of the songs.
As someone who like to imagine they look cool dancing around the house while listening to music, these moments definitely stood out to me. Then we get to Wright’s script which is easily contains the best dialogue I have heard all year. Each character has their own unique traits and personality and never once do you feel that they are not real within the universe of this film. The comedy and the drama all blend together seamlessly making this film a surprisingly emotionally satisfying ride.
This is also thanks to the amazing ensemble who each bring their own charm to their scenes. Like I said, Spacey is amazing in here, even if this is the kind of role he could probably play in his sleep by now. Elgort, while not having a super meaty role, does a great job of capturing emotion with his mannerisms, since his character is pretty quiet. Lily James, while also having a pretty standard role, does pull her accent off well and has great chemistry with Elgort. Jamie Foxx was the only actor I felt could have been a little better, as I did not fully buy him as the mentally deranged criminal that he was, but considering the tone of the movie, I think his performance fit in well enough.
The biggest stand out for me would probably be Jon Hamm, who probably has one of the biggest character arcs of the entire film. He plays one of the robbers who works for Spacey and is able to capture both the intensity that a criminal would need but also bringing plenty of humanity to his role as well.
If I were to point out any flaws with the film, I would say the opening action sequence is probably the most exciting and creative action set piece, which makes you feel like the film is unable to live up to the excitement it first established. Also I am still not sure how I feel about the ending, but that might just be because it was different than what I had imagined.
Besides those small gripes this is the best movie of the summer so far and I cannot wait to buy a second ticket to see this one again. It is a fast paced, energetic and thoroughly entertaining action film and one you must see.