* Disclaimer: Before you head into this review, make sure that you’ve seen the film first as some statements may reveal some plot points that are key. Read at your own risk.
Review by lou.
Non-fans of Edgar Wright will see Baby Driver as a nifty introduction to the British genre master’s beloved craftsmanship for the mainstream to fall in love with. Speeding in, its opening minutes bustles with a heist sequence that is familiar to the eyes, but not to the senses. There’s incredible nuance popping in and out of every corner of the frames and shots – winking at you, and telling you that no, this won’t be an ordinary ride, but instead an addictive, precious cinematic experience. Music then comes to accompany the mayhem, and we see Ansel Elgort rocking and grooving in the driver’s seat, giving us the impression that things are about to go wild. Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, and Eiza Gonzalez come running, and now, we’re strapped for one hell of a ride. It’s a perfect start, and a satisfying one too, considering that, it borrows from other films and makes something fresh and mesmerizing out of them that has us squealing in pure glee. From then on and out, you’d begin to imagine how things would be like for the rest of the film after sitting through that. Like the man that he is, Edgar Wright packs surprises that never stops giving in Baby Driver – fulfilling it as a total crowd pleaser.
He marries different genres all at once, and the unpredictability that he casts over it is quite unprecedented. It can turn from very fun to intensely serious, yet, it still never fails in keeping things well-composed, and us, trying to get exhilarated from the bliss that they bring. It’s as if Edgar Wright is in full control, steering the wheel, and making sharp turns that leads us to all the right places. Of the many things to adore, if we were to cherry pick the best things, then it’s got be the fact that it’s passionate in what it tries to show and tell. An innate heart gets placed right in there, and an unexpected depth of emotions arises and allows the film to breathe a spirit that is soulful and driven in boosting its originality. Some of its side-characters, who look like walking cliches from the genres that they seem to belong in, are actually the opposite of what you think of them. Wright wisely chooses the stars to fit the roles, and thus, in Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, we get to see his versatility which brings dimensions to these two actors and their roles.
Meanwhile, titular character Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, is given characterization that adds layers of emotions to his stoic appearance – connecting us to his world, and his story; letting us breathe the same air as he does. Kevin Spacey is always reliable, yet in here, he also could be deemed as one of the film’s best performances as he portrays Doc with the right amount of class and badass-ery to make the character his own. As an ensemble, the dialogues that they spit and exchange with one another are awesome, but fans of Wright would notice that, a distinct pep is missing or has been diminished. This is especially true if you’ve seen Shaun of the Dead or other works of his where even the smallest of lines get left in your brain much longer than they should. Don’t get mistaken by that though. It isn’t a flaw, but more of a shortcoming. But then again, that hinders basically nothing since its power lies in its zippy filmmaking. Which bring us to this… like its characters, Baby Driver has a personality to rightfully boast – one that attracts all of our attention, and never lets go of it. Now, getting back to the music, it doesn’t only serve to be a treat that could be surmised as candy for the ears…
It’s a force that almost becomes the film’s foreground, enhancing every scene, and becoming an invisible character that zooms past our sight. It blares out moods matching that of its human characters, creates atmosphere for a setting, and is in sync with every sound – giving us permission to tap our toes and bop our heads in all situations just as we go gaga over its perfection in usage. As that happens, somewhere, in there, we could almost see Edgar Wright joyfully laughing as we pick up our jaws on the floor, and boy, are we glad to do just that repeatedly. His efforts in creating a sequence are Oscar worthy. From the smallest to the biggest, he makes the entire film what it is as even the simplest of scenes are transformed to become something wonderful – just as the thrills are reshaped to feel epic, and cinematic enough.
Sweetly ending its trip, Baby Driver reveals itself like that one killer playlist that you’d love to listen to for days – curated by someone with taste and distinction, and a style that you just couldn’t get enough of. It’s simply perhaps the year’s coolest and most cherishable cinematic offering. Edgar Wright spins this action-packed, visual record, and with a Midas touch, he turns it into gold – begging us the question if whether Hollywood or the mainstream is ready for him or not. Are we? Definitely. If anything, this film is merely an indication that he could go big, and hard with a vision so bright that he was able to turn an action film into a musical extravaganza. So, seeing him penetrate major movie studios with his hip artistry would be more than delightful – it would make us ecstatic. We’d take anything and everything that we can from him, knowing his genius that never fails to satisfy our cravings for films that redefine the faces of their genres. If this is the high that we’d get from cinema of today, then we seriously want loads of it.
Baby Driver will hold sneak previews starting today, July 24 until the 25th. Regular theatrical run begins on August 2 in Philippine cinemas nationwide. Distributed by Columbia Pictures Philippines.