Edgar Wright has enjoyed a progression in his career the likes of which every aspiring director can only dream, having been able to kick off his success with the kind of quirky independent British comedies one might use to cultivate a rabid fanbase-his Cornetto trilogy of 2004's Shaun of the Dead, 2007's Hot Fuzz and 2013's The World's End helped to boost his profile and set him apart from the conventional world of filmmaking into which so many of his peers were readily settling. Even a slight diversion into the world of comic book adaptation with 2010's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World generated a cult following that drew even more attention to the rising director's career.
In recent years, however, some might say Wright has seen better days, as 2014 saw Wright exit the director's chair of Marvel's Ant-Man, a passion project he'd been working on for the better part of a decade and a departure stemming from the dreaded label of creative differences. His desire to make a (mostly) stand-alone film that stood (mostly) independent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole while still integrating his trademark humor mixed with a heist premise ultimately didn't jive with Marvel's bigger plans, and in the wake of this parting one began to wonder what Wright's next move would be.
Luckily, that move turned out to be Baby Driver.
In handling both directing & writing duties once again, Wright returns to the silver screen with a film rich in all the elements one would expect from the man, with quick cuts, snappy dialogue and characters that compliment both each other & Wright's story with ease. Scenes of action are effortlessly balanced by moments that allow the cast to develop-in the main role, a getaway driver who uses his skills to pay off a longstanding debt, Ansel Elgort successfully distances himself from his recent teen movie past with a character that's full of innocence, mystery and, despite physically looking like he only just yesterday learned to drive, handles himself behind the wheel like a true veteran of the cinematic car chase. Kevin Spacey, as the man to whom said debt is owed, maintains a subtly villainous persona every time he appears onscreen, a common trait seen in many of his characters over the years and again showing how great of a bad guy he can be. Rounding out the cast of criminals in need of our intrepid driver's services include the likes of Jon Hamm, Jaime Foxx and, in too brief of an appearance, Jon Bernthal, all of whom act as perfect fodder for Spacey’s ringleader while presenting their own distinct personalities, each of which know how to get under one’s skin in a way the right baddie should. Hamm dances between likable and quietly menacing, while Foxx, from start to finish, quite terrifying in a suave manner that never feels like caricature. A romance between a waitress played by Lily James and Elgort feels natural, again owing to the charisma of the actors, and the soundtrack is a character in and of itself, loaded with well-picked songs that often sync up with the action onscreen perfectly. It’s a delight to watch, and help to elevate the film further into a realm far beyond that of average.
Baby Driver is Edgar Wright’s triumphant return, a film that sits comfortably amongst the other classics of his filmography and a fine addition to the world of film overall. It’s charming, humorous, thrilling and full of actors completely committed to their roles. With the addition of that outstanding soundtrack which the recently released Kong: Skull Island & Suicide Squad could only wish they had, the film feels timeless, one that deserves repeated viewings and an audience of people looking to have a good time.
I know I did.