Edgar Wright is basically a nerd God of filmmaking. Not much debate about that, right? Taking traditional genre movies and orchestrating them with the kind of skill worthy of the so-called academy elite but without the acclaim of awards following it up. Whether deconstructing genres with his cornetto trilogy, or bringing a comic book to life in Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Wright has shown his talents time and time again with the kind of devastating consistency few other filmmakers have managed. Having spent a decade developing Ant-Man, with Joe Cornish, Wright left the project as he couldn’t compromise with Marvel’s producer driven approach to the filmmaking process. Baby Driver, being Wright’s first released feature in four years, feels like an explosion of creativity from a director who has been restrained from doing what he loves most.
Following such a stifling period it’s great to see Wright back on the proverbial pedestal with an action/comedy/heist/sort of musical about a young getaway driver named Baby who is trying to leave his criminal life behind, with some difficulty. Cue a magnitude of wonderfully eclectic action set pieces shot with the virtuoso skill that Wright has made a trademark of his movies. Whether it be a high-octane car chase, two young lovers listening to music in a laundromat or Baby walking down the street to get coffee everything feels eventful and wonderfully vibrant. Seriously, Ansel Elgort ordering four coffees and retrieving them for his fellow cronies is far more engaging and inventive than some other films I’ve witnessed this summer. Ansel Elgort is our young protagonist, the charming music obsessed getaway driver, with a smile so irritatingly cutesy that makes you just want to punch him in his perfect face (Perhaps more a reflection on me than Elgort). Elgort’s chemistry with Lily James is instantaneously obvious. Their conversations swift, sensitive and filled with humour and heart. The ensemble is a mix of great talents. Spacey provides the gravitas and authority as the man who won’t let Baby escape his driving exploits, Jon Hamm and Eisa Gonzalez as a pair of Spacey’s favourite go to bank robbers and an explosive Jamie Foxx as the hot-headed Bats. For all the acting greats on display it is Wright who stands front and centre, keeping the action fast and fluent. Choreographed like a musical, all the action is phenomenally intricate and plays out with a rhythmic glee that keeps the heart pumping thoroughly throughout. In the final act the tightly woven narrative begins to unravel slightly with a few questionable character choices that seem out of….erm… character? And it’s definitely not as funny a movie as any of the cornetto trilogy but it speaks to Wright’s talent that this movie, which is basically just Wright blowing off some steam following a difficult spell with Ant-Man, is easily one of the best films of the year.
In a summer filled with sequels, reboots and spin-offs it’s important to champion the original content, especially when it’s this good. Inspired by seminal car based action classics, such as Walter Hill’s The Driver, Edgar Wright has made the car chase movie of the year (Soz Vin Diesel), with a moderately cheap budget. So get down to your local cinema and check it out.