Edgar Wright finally makes his highly anticipated directorial return following on from the underwhelming The World’s End, the final instalment of his ‘Three Flavours Cornetto’ trilogy. Since its energetic SXSW premiere earlier this year, Baby Driver has been a much talked about potential hit of the year and finally pulls into cinemas this Wednesday. The film’s title refers to the name and profession of the central character. Baby, is a talented, but reluctant, heist getaway driver – working to pay off what he owes to a powerful crime boss. Suffering from tinnitus he constantly listens to music to drown out the constant ringing – a result of a tragic car crash in his youth. With music always in his ears and sunglasses almost always covering his eyes, Baby is undoubtedly one of the most irritating protagonists of 2017. There is rarely a moment of silence in Baby Driver as the soundtrack entering Baby’s ears is also heard on screen for 99% of the film. A man of very few words, Baby is a feeble attempt to recreate the success of Ryan Gosling’s enigmatic driver from 2011’s near-perfect Drive – as Wright clumsily attempts to blend the effortless charm of Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece with the cheeky, carefree cool of Guardians of the Galaxy. The pulsating music and energetic driving sequences carry you through Baby Driver which, despite several enjoyable sequences, never synchronises into a complete movie. Taking more inspiration than it is creating original content, Baby Driver is ultimately style over substance, with the style itself feeling too constructed and forced to really be sold as cool or sincere.
Captivated by diner waitress Debora, Baby finally looks set for a fresh start and a clean slate – both expressing their inner Thelma & Louise, yearning to take to the open road, with no plan but to leave this city in a sudden cloud of dust. Of course, Baby and his talents behind the wheel see him forced into one final job – one set to earn him vast amounts of money but ultimately doomed to violently fail. Accompanying him for the ride is scenery chewing Jamie Foxx, and a coked up couple – all of whom start to rub each other up the wrong way in tense Jackie Brown-like style. Foxx is almost always a frustrating and egotistical presence and proves as irritating here as ever. It’s enjoyable to see Jon Hamm in a low-life role and I was impressed with Ansel Elgort’s attempt to break free from his teen-movie mould – sadly, both characters ultimately let down the actors behind them. The stand out performance comes from Lily James who, much like Carey Mulligan’s Irene in Drive, is the film’s only real innocence and escape from the festering corruption that propels the plot forward. Kevin Spacey turns in a conventional performance made up of the same manipulative, power-hungry traits found within his now infamous turn as Frank Underwood in House of Cards. I was unimpressed by the opening chapter of Baby Driver and all its insincere hipster-tastic attributes and even less impressed as it progressed into nonsensical chaos in its closing segments. Still – as far as Summer blockbusters go, this is by far the least offensive and is undoubtedly entertaining at certain points. Frustratingly, Baby Driver would have benefited greatly from being a solid 90 minutes; if only some of the self indulgent fat had been trimmed away in post-production.
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