Like most thing nowadays, it's hard to find something truly original. You pop the trunk of music, movies or even cars and what you have is a borrowed part here, bolted onto an homage there. In Baby Driver, however, Edgar Wright manages to infuse excitement and his own particular brand of kineticism into every passing moment. The result is a narrative turbo charge that keeps the wheels spinning for its running time.
As much as Crank was a self aware set-up for an action movie, Baby Driver is the ultimate in heist wish-fulfilment. Baby (Ansel Egort) constantly listens to music in order to drown out the tinnitus he's had since a tragic childhood accident. A troubled youth, stealing cars has put him in the path of Doc (Kevin Spacey) who puts together bad guys for armed robberies. Even if it sounds like a tried and tested formula, Wright's own particular brand of motor oil keeps any familiarity gumming up the works. Even the "one last job" motif established soon on is easily passed by after the inventive, white-knuckle opener that leaves all other celluloid chase scenes in the dust. In the driving stakes, Wright is careful not to just up the ante and have to out-do himself for every getaway. The first job is balls-to-wall with slick manoeuvres matched only by the camera work and editing. The second is hampered by Baby's unwillingness to allow wanton casualties, but it still offers something inspired when it comes to its action beats. Later it all becomes a bit more messy to mirror the emotion and what's at stake.
The wild bunch that Baby is thrown in with are all the colourfully charismatic criminals you'd expect, but just when you've been hoodwinked into enjoying the comradery, you're quickly reminded who you're hanging out with, and just how threatening a situation Baby is in. Jamie Fox' aptly named Bats gradually cranks up the dial on psycho until his looming danger hits the red line. Gonzalez and Hamm, offer a faux big brother/sister role until the sociopath starts to bubble from under the surface. Even Spacey manages to turn something paternal into transactional, then menacing, and back again. The menagerie of madness chokes like an exhaust, and watching Baby in the middle of it all is just as tense as some of the screeching car choreography.
Thankfully its not all heavy-footed acceleration and there's a lot more clutch control than may meet the eye on the first viewing. In his debut as solo writer and director, Edgar Wright offers something much more subtle than simply stringing car chases to cleverly chosen tunes - although they are brillaint. Once set up, Baby's reliance on music offers more than bombast. There's an inventive and understated synchronicity to the music and the goings on. While the more obvious gun fire to the song's beat and balletic car cruising is more satisfying, it's the smaller reassuring pats on the arm, movements and gestures to the musical rhythms that are even more rewarding when you catch them. The most delightful of which is the conjoined waltz as Baby shares his ear buds with Deborah at the laundromat. It's like watching a delicate musical that dances between the rain drops of an action movie. Only under Wright's skillful hand could all these things coalesce into such an enjoyable symphony
4* - Def Race