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Movie Review: Baby Driver

Baby Driver is beautiful to behold, and wonderful to listen to
Aisle Seat, Rob Slack

Baby Driver

Directed by Edgar Wright

In Theatres

I am fully and completely in love with Baby Driver. I am over the moon for Baby Driver. I want to give Baby Driver my sweater on cool days. I want to share my favourite Stupid Dummy Heds cartoons with Baby Diver. I want to bring Baby Driver to all of my favourite places. I want to introduce Baby Driver to all of my favourite people. I want to sit on a patio on a hot summer day with Baby Driver, sipping cool adult beverages, listening to the Baby Driver soundtrack and people watch. And when the sun goes down I want to lay on the ground and Baby Driver and I will name new constellations for our favourite pop songs. Bellbottoms. Harlem Shuffle. Hocus Pocus. And of course Brighton Rock.

Baby Driver is cool. It oozes cool from every frame, it drips leather jacket, sunglass cool. It's also beautiful to behold, and wonderful to listen to. It is an action movie with the trappings of a musical. Or maybe it's a musical wrapped up in the black leather jacket of an action film. I really don't know how anyone would define this movie. If there were still Blockbusters the cats that decided where films were placed in the store would have aneurysms over Baby Driver. It's a song and dance film, an action movie, a romantic film. Bad people do very bad things, funny things happen, heart beats race, love is found and protected. And music plays. Oh, tap dancing Jesus on a cracker, does music play. Baby Driver is wall to wall ceiling to floor music. This is the movie where every gear shift, every brake stand, every power turn, where nearly ever gun shot is timed to the beat. 

Nearly every line of dialogue in Baby Driver is musical, is rhythmic. Casting a song and dance kid like Ansel Elgort and musicians like Jamie Foxx and Flea enhances the music of the dialogue. Baby Driver is so very Tarantino in its use of language. Every word, every syllable has been chosen with care. And, like Edgar Wright's previous films, you never, ever hear the work, the sweat that went into the script. It never feels false, never feels like any effort went into it. Exposition never feels like exposition. Someone asks for information, they are given that information and it's all organic. Instead of someone laying out their backstory, someone else guesses their backstory in a power play. Nearly every single thing in Baby Driver grows out of and plays off of places where the seams are never seen. 

Edgar Wright takes full advantage of his star's background in dance, Ansel Elgort is seamless fluidity, whether he's dancing with a Subaru to Jon Spencer's Bellbottoms or running across patio tables as he escapes from the cops. He is Baby, he drives the bad people and lives his life to a constant soundtrack. Everything is choreographed around that soundtrack, to the point where he makes some bad guys wait while he restarts his song, sending them off on the drum crash of The Damned's Neat Neat Neat. When Baby isn't moving he is very still, no twitches. Maybe he's miming some piano, maybe he's signing to his foster father. But overall when Ansel Elgort stops moving, he is so very still. Like, old school cool guy actor cool. Like McQueen and Newman and Redford. Ansel Elgort is that kind of cool in Baby Driver, all natural and quiet. He plays Baby as a cipher, as an ocean of anxiety out of view. Mr. Elgort's performance is the counter to Kevin Spacey's Doc. Doc, like Baby, is still and quiet. But his quiet is all danger, a cluster bomb waiting to go off. Where Baby is an enigma, Doc is all threat. Where Baby is constantly seen as a threat by the more psycho kill crazy bad guys, be it for his stillness or the fact that he looks like Ansel Elgort, Doc is never questioned. He is always the parent in the room. 

Every performance is note perfect. Lily James just about glows, her smile is like the greatest smile of ever. She's never the damsel in distress. Instead, she finds herself caught up in a hurricane of love and affection and danger. Jon Bernthal and Jamie Foxx dial down the crazy which makes their psycho kill crazy bad guys even more chilling. I don't know if anyone else but Jon Hamm could have played Buddy. Seriously, Edgar Wright supposedly wrote the character for Jon Hamm. But this is the film performance Jon Hamm fans have been waiting for, complicated and paternal and sexy and terrifying. Eiza Gonzalez's Darling is like the most dangerous of the characters, manipulating everyone around her to her will, to her desires, to her needs. 

I seriously can't find anything to criticize about Baby Driver. It is, easily, the greatest movie ever made to feature cameos by Jon Spencer, Killer Mike and Big Boi. And the soundtrack… don't get me started on the soundtrack. 

Baby Driver is a rare breed. It's not a sequel, prequel, spinoff, reboot or remake. It's not based on a novel, comic book, television series, breakfast cereal, toy line or amusement ride. There are no colons or Roman numerals or puns in its title. It's not another chapter in cinematic story that involves at least three different franchises. There are no advertisements for other films at the end of the credits. Baby Driver is a completely original film. It's an idea that's been rumbling around Edgar Wright's cranium since at least 2003, the year he directed a video for Mint Royale's single Blue Song. So, seriously, if you've been complaining about the lack of originality in your local cineplex, if you've been bemoaning the lack of new ideas coming out of Hollywood, if you've been suffering from franchise fatigue, spend your hard earned dollars on Baby Driver. Your soul will thank you.