All you need is one killer track.
Edgar Wright’s car-chase thriller Baby Driver has so much va-va-voom it will leave you positively grinning with pleasure.
The Somerset-born writer-director has topped up his long-nurtured tale of a preternaturally gifted young getaway driver with high-octane delights, including a charismatic hero, brilliantly choreographed action and a soundtrack so hot it leaves scorch marks.
The hum in the drum
Ansel Elgort, star of teen weepie The Fault in Our Stars, plays the eponymous Baby, an orphaned former joyrider now working as a wheelman for Kevin Spacey’s Atlanta crime kingpin Doc. A rotating crew of wrong ’uns carry out the intricate heists Doc sets up, but Baby is his getaway driver of choice, his lucky charm from the time he caught the youngster boosting his swag-filled Mercedes. Baby has been paying off this debt ever since.
As his cohorts quickly discover, Baby’s personal shtick is constantly listening to music to drown out the ‘hum in the drum’ – the tinnitus he acquired as a child in the accident that killed his parents. And, no matter how pressing the situation, Baby won’t put pedal to the metal until he has found the killer track to accompany the gang’s escape.
Which gives Wright the chance to score his action sequences to a string of rock, pop, funk and soul gems, from ‘Bellbottoms’ by alt-rockers The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion to ‘Radar Love’ by 70s Dutch band Golden Earring and ‘Brighton Rock’ by Queen. Happily, the scenes in between get the music treatment, too. When Baby saunters to the coffee shop, the accompaniment of Bob & Earl’s ‘Harlem Shuffle’ gives his cool swagger extra pep.
Naturally, Wright gives all this an edge. Baby wants to quit the gang, an aspiration that becomes even more urgent when he falls in love with Lily James’s sweet diner waitress Debora. But Doc always has one more job lined up and Baby’s latest crew – Jamie Foxx’s unhinged Bats and Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez’ loved-up duo Buddy and Darling – are dangerously volatile.
Wright delivers all this with drop-dead cool. He’s reworking a well-worn genre, for sure, but he gives the form’s clichés such a nifty spin in Baby Driver they come up fresh. The car chases are terrific, the dialogue is witty and the music choices spot on. And in the appropriately baby-faced Elgort, Wright has a lead with just the right amount of cocky charm and callow vulnerability.
Certificate 15. Runtime 113 mins. Director Edgar Wright