Of the more accessible filmmakers consistently working in the comedy genre, Edgar Wright is quite possibly the most exciting. But like Wes Anderson his own films establish their own quirks in such a manner it’s easy to embrace the universe in which they take place whether it be the Cornetto trilogy or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. His latest film, Baby Driver, proves itself to be no different – riding in on Wright’s own love of pop culture but he always had an innovative use of music through every one of his films and right there is where the glory lies. Perhaps the most obvious thing that can be said is that the music is indeed very good, but moving away from the comedy genre with Baby Driver has only continued to prove why Edgar Wright was ever as exciting as he is, but in here there’s a greater comfort he found within himself that perhaps his own comedies haven’t fully embraced. But even if Baby Driver weren’t his best film, it has all the qualities to make it one of the most exciting wide releases of the decade.
Baby Driver, taking its title from the Simon & Garfunkel song of the same name, tells the story of the young getaway driver Baby. Baby’s reflexes are defined by his own personal music beats, but after scoring a large number of jobs for his own boss, he finds himself wanting to catch a break. He falls in love with a waitress whom he befriends, but soon he finds himself brought into one more job that would ultimately put what he loves most at risk. Coming back to many things that made Scott Pilgrim vs. the World work as perfectly as it did there was the sort of background his own protagonists work within: they’re dangerous but the charisma behind how Edgar Wright directs them only makes a far more compelling scenario to be set up. It isn’t shying away from its own moral critiques, which is perhaps the best aspect of watching Edgar Wright play around with what he’s got in his own hands.
The fact that Baby Driver is indeed taking its own title from a Simon & Garfunkel song of all things sets up what propels the excitement one will feel from watching: because Edgar Wright’s own films have always made themselves distinctive from how they use music to liven up a sequence. Baby Driveris full of that, whether it be within a small scene detailing what made Baby the way he is or a bigger action sequence, but it was with this he’s only made his own musical choices the most distinctive of them all. For we’ve already gotten a taste of how he used Canadian indie rock music (Broken Social Scene and Metric in particular) to liven up Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, now with a range of eras of artists going from The Beach Boys, Blur, and Sky Ferreira. Quite obviously, the music is very good, but as Edgar Wright comes to incorporate it into the scene what happens is that we see things the way Baby is seeing them happen in front of his own eyes – and thus the action only becomes all the more exciting.
As for Edgar Wright’s own love of pop culture the film’s storyline makes a greater case with the fact it is so evidently influenced by Walter Hill’s The Driver. Even going as far as having Walter Hill himself make a cameo in the film, Wright isn’t thriving upon being self-referential with where he’s taking influence from a la Quentin Tarantino but when he calls back to some of the most unorthodox of them all (there’s a callback to Monsters, Inc. that even leads towards a hilarious exchange between Ansel Elgort and Kevin Spacey), that’s where it even finds itself at its funniest. But it was nice enough to see Edgar Wright move away from comedy in order to broaden his own horizons as a filmmaker because there was only a more refined side of himself being shown here that sets himself atop many blockbusters coming out during the year, because the humour doesn’t feel forced in for its own sake but it almost feels natural to the environment in which it is set within.
Perhaps the most fascinating case being presented here is the character of Baby himself, because we have a clear case of trauma and coping. Baby’s world is defined by the music he listens to, and as his backstory explains he suffers from a permanent case of tinnitus: so he drowns out the pain with music. There’s a fantastic psychological case study being presented when it comes to how Edgar Wright forms this trait about Baby, because music allows oneself to drown out what’s most dreadful about the environment one is walking within, and in Ansel Elgort’s role as Baby it isn’t only creating a quick pace for the film but it’s also clever in the sense that it plays along with calming mystery that surrounds Baby. He and Deborah, played by the lovely Lily James, also make for a cute couple together, because of how the music is allowing the two of them to live within their own world: but looking how it contrasts the reality of Baby’s lifestyle only exemplifies what I’ve always loved Edgar Wright for.
Maybe I’m talking too much because I kept playing Simon and Garfunkel’s very own “Baby Driver” in order to get myself in the mood to write about this, but to get the obvious out of the way, Edgar Wright has succeeded once again. It’s nice to see that he isn’t making a straight comedy out of Baby Driver unlike his previous works but it was nevertheless always refreshing just to see his innovative music choices come in for another genre. It’s a film whose energy allows oneself to hum along with every beat, because of the manner to which it is edited, but I didn’t expect something far more intelligent in its own psychological profile regarding the reality one lives and the world one envisions. But whenever I walk outside of the house I’ve always deafened myself from hearing what I felt didn’t matter to me with whatever music I stored on my phone, and Baby Driver spoke out to that part of me I couldn’t even resist the charm that it leaves behind. But then again, that’s something I can easily say about any Edgar Wright film for Baby Driver has only continued this streak of excellence.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Sony.
Directed by Edgar Wright
Screenplay by Edgar Wright
Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Nira Park
Starring Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Sky Ferreira, CJ Jones
Release Year: 2017
Running Time: 113 minutes