Despite the title, once I’d seen the first trailer for Baby Driver I was in. I like Edgar Wright’s movies (not love, just like) and this cast is absolutely stellar.
A good car film is something rare and wonderful. The action is supposed to be so high octane that it’s hard to balance that with the quiet moments of exposition. So by the very nature of the film Wright doesn’t let it go quiet. He’s using the music to keep the beat and give us multiple points of action to watch.
The cast delivered 100%. Kevin Spacey is channeling John from Glengarry Glen Ross with a side of Frank Underwood from House of Cards. Jamie Foxx is chewing the scenery as the wild Bats, and his supporting heavies carry on the thick skulled thug trope with aplomb.
For me, Eiza González and Jon Hamm steal the show. They could end up almost as Joker and Harley Quinn, but we see a lot more of Bonnie and Clyde. The film lets us see them having their own story, motivations, and insights whilst we follow Baby’s story, and when they come into their own during a hectic second act climax I didn’t want to see anyone else on screen. I make no secret of my love for Mad Men and Jon Hamm in particular, in Baby Driver while he’s allowed to do a more with the character, this is still him bringing his charm and intelligence to the fore.
I’m mentioning the actors but a huge amount of credit goes to Wright and his cinematographer, Bill Pope. Ever the master of a sweeping camera shot, Pope moves the shot around without seeming to rely on CG to aid him. In one moment, an overhead shot of Baby parking outside his apartment moves in through the window and tracks him coming in. The camera doesn’t move much, but it means there is no stillness or cut necessary to keep moving.
For all that this is a film of great performances and perfect shots, there are points that suffer. The pacing drops significantly in the middle, with a too-high number of meetings and discussions. The finale takes place in a car park, which is disappointing for a film featuring fast driving and impressive stunts across a city. At times in this film we’re put in mind of Guardians of the Galaxy and the trailer for Suicide Squad, which rob it of some freshness. And elements of the plotting need a line here or there to explain – why is the third heist planned so different from the rest, why is Baby a bit daft when threatened, and why do so many people drive beautiful town cars in this part of Atlanta?
These issues do not take away from the great – the foster father, the cool moves both on foot and behind the wheel, the glorious soundtrack, and Jon Hamm. Baby Driver is a good film, with moments of greatness and a first half that delivers on the promise of the trailer, but doesn’t push on from there.