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Review: Doing donuts to a mixtape, Baby Driver is the millenial vision of a heist movie

PUBLISHED: 16:39 30 June 2017

Jamie Foxx as Bats and Ansel Elgort as Baby in Edgar Wright's Baby Driver. Picture: Columbia Pictures

Jamie Foxx as Bats and Ansel Elgort as Baby in Edgar Wright's Baby Driver. Picture: Columbia Pictures

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Edgar Wright high-octane crime caper which gleefully burns rubber to a toe-tapping soundtrack is a daring stylistic conceit that leaves other summer films choking on its exhaust fumes.

Ansel Elgort as Baby, Jamie Foxx as Bats, Eiza Gonzalez as Darling and Jon Hamm as Buddy in Baby Driver. Picture: Columbia Pictures Ansel Elgort as Baby, Jamie Foxx as Bats, Eiza Gonzalez as Darling and Jon Hamm as Buddy in Baby Driver. Picture: Columbia Pictures

Baby Driver (15)

****

Ansel Elgort is so baby faced, so gentle and non-threatening, he’s like a teddy bear that’s received an all over Brazilian wax. To a manly man he looks so smooth that thioygh he is 6ft 3in on screen his hulking frame doesn’t carry any sense of threat or menace. So, all in all, he’s a very strange choice for the lead in a crime thriller, even if he is only the getaway driver.

British Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright, still smarting from having had the Ant-man film taken from him (and then having it turn out great), has made something that genuinely brings the traditions of a classic crime drama into the modern age.

Jamie Foxx as Bats, Lanny Joon as JD and Ansel Elgort as Baby in Baby Driver. Picture: Columbia Pictures Jamie Foxx as Bats, Lanny Joon as JD and Ansel Elgort as Baby in Baby Driver. Picture: Columbia Pictures

Forty years ago we had Ryan O’Neal in 1978 cult crime thriller The Driver; now we have Elgort and we may have the better deal. Baby Driver does donuts around all the blockbusters out this summer.

Elgort’s Baby is a man being forced to live a life that matches the excitement of the soundtrack he has created for it. Having fallen under the control of a bad man, Kevin Spacey, the only way he can deal with his existence is to choreograph it to the selection of music he has scattered on his various iPods and mixtapes.

The various criminal types who have him as their getaway driver think they have just been teamed up with Rainman.

The music is everything to this film. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, however much you enjoy watching the film on screen, playing the soundtrack on YouTube afterwards is the moment when you will fall in love with it. As is the way these days his musical choices are pointedly, almost incontinently eclectic – everything from Blur instrumentals to classic Stax soul, punk to the Beach Boys, Ennio Morricone to Queen. The stand out is Hocus Pocus by dutch prog rockers Focus.

In its own way Wright’s film is as radical take on crime genre as Reservoir Dogs. Not as good, but it is trying to give it a new relevance, adapt it this modern age.

Even when there is nothing happening there is always some kind of commotion going on. It is more sentimental than the crime drama of the old lags but that works for it. A little bit of heart at loose in the callous, grown up world of crime is quite affecting. And there is no irony here.

Baby uses the music to insulate himself from his criminal actions but the film isn’t flip or dismissive, it is funny, ferocious, thrilling, stylish, original and always in the correct proportions. Every element works to support the other. It’s the perfect Millennial vision of a heist movie.

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