Director Edgar Wright returns with a soundtrack driven classic in Baby Driver
Shaun of the Dead is my favourite film (of all time), so my hopes were high for Edgar Wright’s latest film. Sold as a fusion of action, musical, romance, and comedy movies, Baby Driver does not disappoint. The long take opening sequence alone is fucking phenomenal, Edgar Wright does not waste a second in this film – every shot, every song, every line, every stunt, every sound, EVERYTHING in Baby Driver is beautifully executed. The sounds of weapons, horns, anything Wright can be creative with, are utilised and coordinated with the music and transitions. The beauty of Edgar Wright’s style is that he appreciates all technical elements of filming equally. The story is a classic but completely fresh; this is not a reboot, sequel, remake, threequel, franchise, or whatever the film studios seem to be churning out at the moment, this is completely original, with some great homages.
The concept for the film predates Spaced (Wright’s TV sitcom with his Cornetto Trilogy collaborators, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost), the idea was used on a much smaller scale when Wright directed the music video for Mint Royale’s ‘Blue Song’, which gets a little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo as well as a new lease of life in the opening scene. The cast for this film is a testament to Wright’s ability as a director, and how highly regarded he is as a writer. Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey are always a pleasure to watch, and both are on top form here, as are the rest of actors. Young stars Ansel Elgort and Lily James bring their A game, their electrifying chemistry forms a romance that is not cringey, it is timeless and sweet, and there are some cracking sexy songs to go alongside it (queue Debra by Beck, and of course some Barry White).
Baby Driver’s soundtrack is an eclectic compilation of songs, genres, and musicians. I have never been as excited for a soundtrack as much as its film before, but I went in equally excited for both, and Wright has hit a home run. This is a cinemusical masterpiece (I made that word up but it sounds right), Baby Driver is a musical but not in the traditional sense. The film is not just heightened by the music, the film and music coexist – the music is the story and forms the roots of the entire movie. Not enough people are doing this in film, but they are on the rise with the likes of Whiplash (dir. Damien Chazelle), and Tarantino has been doing it for decades now (whose filmography this takes a lot of influence from).
However, Edgar Wright has just taken cinemusicals (I’m making this a thing) to the next level, Wright and his entire production team (with Nira Park, Tim Bevan, and Eric Fellner back at the producer’s helm after Hot Fuzz and The World’s End) go into such meticulous detail – the sounds are utilised wherever possible, the shots are all composed, transitioned, and edited beautifully with no single moment taken for granted (Paul Machliss also rejoins Wright’s team on editing duties, alongside Jonathan Amos). One of my favourite transitions is where a spinning washing machine changes into a vinyl spinning, groovy AF. This film also showcases how much Edgar Wright can do with a big budget, he doesn't fill it with CGI but uses it on real stunts and practical effects as much as he can.
Wright embodies everything musical that we love at Trouve la Groove: old school hip hop, northern soul, classic rock, funky jazz, - it goes on, the soundtrack is a complete delight (now awaiting for my vinyl to arrive, bought it immediately after). With this appreciation of the old school, a real fanboy wet dream would be for Nile Rodgers and Edgar Wright to collaborate on a project together. Biography anyone? Imagine a biography shot by Edgar Wright, it would feel so different to the usual formula, or a music video for CHIC, which would be sick, it could happen you know...had I mentioned I'm a fan? Anyway, enough with dream tangents. Baby Driver is visually stylish, musically adventurous, sweetly funny and darkly hilarious, action-packed with practical stunts, and as fast paced as its titular character. There is SO much more I could talk about, and there are so many talented people involved who deserve a mention, but I think you get the picture by now. You should go and see Wright’s modern day classic, because it is fucking great.