I’ve started the Baby Driver soundtrack, spotify says it’s one hour 45 minutes long. The film clocks in at a tight one hour 43, including credits. I’ll allow you to feel however you’d like about that. It’s writer/director Edgar Wright’s newest film, and his last came out before I even started university, he’s been missing too long from our screens. Seems like after getting a bit burned on the Ant Man Marvel deal he’s backed away from the sorta material that leads to producer meddling, fired up a screenplay he’d had on the backburner and went wild.
Almost as a result, this totally feels like the most Edgar Wright film it could be possible to make. Like it’s the most slick, smooth, kinetic, pacey, joyous look into the world of Atlanta organised crime, which is also a total love letter to cinema and to music and the ability of the art we consume to fundamentally change the world as it constructs around us. It’s a kickass car chase action movie, and a lowkey comedy, and a sweet innocent teen romance. Its soundtrack is absurd, but it still manages to squeeze in some of Steven Price’s original score in the downtime somewhere.
It thinks it’s so damn cool. If you’re not feeling into it it’ll just piss you right off. Thing is though, from where I be, it is cool. It’s so cool. Sure, it knows it, but it’s like Lin-Manuel Miranda, or your eight year old nephew who has the best fidget spinner tricks, so proud and so genuine and so honest about how radical it is that it just comes across purely winning. You’ve probably seen those trailers by now, there’s one at the head of this review if you ain’t, it’s a feature length version of that.
Comes with some problems then, running time feels nice but there’s too many ideas in here for all to carry. It’s what leads to the soundtrack being longer than the film, like there’s this bit it uses that Easy Like Sunday Morning track and it real nice for the minute it hangs around. Then we cut to a new scene mid-track and we get a new needle drop, cos we need to keep moving. Sure, that moment the most obvious, and the scene it cut into is tacked to a dope song I’d never heard by a dope band I never heard, but it happens a few times. For a film literally about the human need for and importance of music choices like that undermine the movie something awful.
Then the movie wins you back over with big cuddles. Edgar Wright must be one of the loveliest humans alive, even when writing a group of people who knock banks all easy and shoot their big guns at innocent people he’s still a far shot from writing the worst guys. There’s one in the whole movie, Jamie Foxx plays this douchebag unrepentant sleazebag, he gets some funny lines, they all do, but the dude just sucks. Literally everyone else in the movie hates him.
So you got Ansel Elgort as Baby, the young hotshot wheelman who listens to music on the job because the tinnitus he suffers is too distracting otherwise. Look, it’s the movie’s thing, just go with it. Kevin Spacey is the sharp tongued boss who plans all the heists, it’s good Spacey and he really seems to be having a lot of fun. I mentioned Jamie Foxx before, alongside him Jon Hamm and Eiza González play the two other operatives. There’s more though, like a whole nother four I think, because there be too much damn business in this movie.
The whole thing goes over three heists. I get you need scene setting but the first two spend a lot of time laying the groundwork. There’s this whole bit they do where Spacy says that he never hires the exact same team twice, which if you’re a crime lord probably makes sense but it means that by the time we reach the third heist literally half of the characters that we’re introduced to are just gone. Least the business is fun.
Then we got where the heart of the movie is, like all of Wright’s movies it’s all about love. CJ Jones plays Baby’s adoptive father, an aging deaf dude, solid guy, engages with Baby’s passion for music by feeling the vibrations from their sweet sound system. If only Bill Pope’s usually stellar camera could be bothered to frame dude’s hands in the shot when he signing, immense disservice. Then Lily James appears as Debora a diner waitress who’s dressed like she works at some sixties retro joint but that’s just the film. They have cute puppy love and every moment between the two of them is so precious. Love it.
In 2003 Wright directed a music video which he says was the impetus for the idea before he realised it could be stretched out into a feature. And it weird, because that a music video, but what seems to have improved is his timing. Dear god everything so slick in this movie, it like perfect, it like there’s no film at all this year that has hidden so much humour in the edit than this one. There’s a bit where Hamm shoots this gun, not in time with the beat but as each syncopated chord smashes down.
Whatever, it awesome. Y’all ought to have heard by now, but if not: the joint fucking awesome. See it. I ran out the soundtrack while writing because I’m still living garbage, it’s a bomb ass mixtape, just imagine it with wheels.
Baby Driver is currently screening in UK cinemas