It's still very early in 2017, but I have a hard time believing I'll see another movie this year as consistently entertaining and jaw-dropping as Baby Driver. Edgar Wright's latest is an exhilarating ride from start to finish, even as it runs on fumes in the final 20 minutes.
Ansel Elgort plays Baby, a talented getaway driver who always soundtracks his escapes on an iPod (how retro). The tunes drown out his tinnitus and his ugly childhood memories. Much like the driver in Drive – which this movie most closely resembles, he doesn't say much, but he's captivating all the same. And like Drive, he gets in over his head when a heist goes bad and he and his crew are even more wanted by the cops.
But enough about the plot. The sheer joy I got from this movie had nothing to do with that. It's all in the performances – each one outstanding – and the brilliant, frequently awe-inspiring symphony of cinematography, film and sound editing, all cued up to one of the most incredible soundtracks ever assembled.
In many respects, Baby Driver is a musical, so choreographed is each step of the gas pedal, slam of the car door and shot of a gun. I can't even imagine the number of takes they had to pull off to get each action to sync up perfectly with the songs Wright chose and the vision he had in his head.
But it's not merely showing off. This movie is just so much fun. Even when things get a bit grim, there's time to enjoy it all. Even a crazed killer stops for a moment to enjoy an obscure Queen song. And it doesn't just feel like a tic either. Each character gets just enough development to feel like a person, but not so much that it slows down any of the film's forward momentum.
The movie only gets lost toward the end, when the finale strains the limits of its premise to where it's not believable anymore. The film also adds a rushed and unnecessary epilogue. This is the same problem I had with The World's End, and also why neither film quite hit the next-level highs of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Hot Fuzz.
But these are minor quibbles. For much of the cast, this is the best film performance they've ever given. And for Oscar winners Jamie Foxx (as the wild card in the heist crew) and Kevin Spacey (as the brains and money behind the rip-offs), this is the best film they've done in years.
If you're a fan of any of Edgar Wright's work, this will absolutely be up your alley. When it finally comes out this August, race to your local theater and see it right away. You may think everything that can be done with car chases can and has been done. Luckily, Wright is here to prove you wrong.