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Review: Baby Driver

Edgar Wright's latest is one hell of a thrill ride.

For many, British director Edgar Wright can do no wrong. Now that Wright has completed his trilogy with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the director is free to indulge in the Hollywood options available to him. After being taken off Ant-Man, Wright returns with one of his most ambitious films yet, Baby Driver.

The crowd-pleaser stars Ansel Elgort as Baby, a reserved getaway driver with an ear keen for music. Paying a debt to Doc (Kevin Spacey), Baby has to drive for various trigger-happy criminals. When he’s not driving, Baby spends his time alone at a diner, earphones in place, slowly charming waitress Deborah (Lily James). Though Doc promises that Baby would never work with the same crews twice, Baby is set to drive for three of the most ferocious criminals (Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, and Eiza Gonzalez) whose sharp egos threaten to ambush the mission.

Watching Baby Driver is an absolutely visceral experience. Wright’s film moves at a rapid pace, using his unique editing style and trademark wit to hypnotize his audience. In the moment it’s hard to find anything wrong with the film. When under Wright’s spell there really isn’t any choice but to go along with the ride. It is only towards the end of the film, when Wright’s unearned, tawdry conclusion reveals some holes that have been there all along. Wright’s style is overtly masturbatory. He knows what he’s good at, but the constant reliance on cutting to the beat of his soundtrack eventually seems just a bit lazy. He’s consistent of course, so the film’s repeated beats seem strangely natural. Regardless of Ansel Elgort’s continued inability to reflect any interior thought in his face, it’s easy to get on Baby’s side. His blank vessel quality makes it easy for any viewer to slip into his place, making that road home from the theater a little risky.

Baby Driver is a necessary theatrical experience. If you’re not going to watch this in the cinema, then don’t bother. It is completely hypnotic in the moment, yet strangely becomes easily forgettable soon after the credits role. That being said, there seems to be little going on beneath the surface of the film anyway, so who needs memorable?

3.5
Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.