SXSW Movie Review: ‘Baby Driver’ Is A Blast To Watch

Review by Preston Barta

Music has such a profound effect on the human condition. As we drive to and from work, as we walk alone during a time of reflection, or find ourselves in the company of a loved one, listening to music can hold such a power over our emotions and often define an experience.

This is a notion filmmaker Edgar Wright seems to understand quite remarkably, and it shows in his latest charm/thrill-a-minute creation Baby Driver.

The film stars Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) as a young getaway driver named Baby who suffers from tinnitus and listens to whatever is on his iPod to drown out the constant noise humming in his ears. After meeting the lovely waitress Debora (Lily James), he sees an opportunity to escape his criminal way of life and run away for a better one. Repressed by his intimidating mob boss Doc (a whimsical Kevin Spacey), Baby has to face the music and complete one last heist before he’s scottfree.

What follows is a largely quotable romantic action-comedy punctuated by a series of over-the-top car chases, firefights and dance numbers. Stylistically, it rides between La La Land and Drive. The way in which Baby dances through the streets with earbuds in and a pair of shades on after a successful bank score arguably falls into the rhythm of a musical, but also feels like something we haven’t seen before.

Wright is a genius when it comes to deconstructing genres. Just look at his films Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. He has a knack for taking advantage of mundane cinematic devices, such as exposition scenes and simple transitions, and injecting them with an infectious, high-octane energy. Whether he’s filming Baby drifting his way over highways or comedic dialogue exchanges between its crew members (including a devilishly-good Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal and Flea), Wright squeezes every ounce of fun he can out of the material, leaving no stone unturned before it makes its way to the screen.

With Baby Driver, Wright manages to assemble a magnetic cast (especially Hamm and Foxx) and throw them into compelling situations while sporting a purchasable soundtrack. And like most of his films, Baby Driver is blast to watch from beginning to end. If he continues to venture down this avenue, we’re set to enter a new age of high-dollar entertainment.

Release date is on Friday, June 28.

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