Director Edgar Wright is a reinventor. His films challenge, subvert and, in some cases, take the piss of popular but formulaic genres. Where many fail to pull this off, Wright succeeds through his signature style and quick-witted writing, which breathes new life into tired tropes and reinvents genres steeped in their own formulas. Unfortunately, with Baby Driver, Wright has created a film plagued with the same Hollywood conventions that he poked fun at in his previous work.
The concept of Baby Driver lends itself to the current cinematic trend of realism, meaning much of Wright’s signature style is not suited for the verisimilitude the film constructs, and is underplayed because of it. In his previous works, like Scott Pilgrim VS The World and Hot Fuzz, his directorial techniques were justified because of the absurd and undoubtedly fun cinematic worlds he had created.
With this new film, the story of Baby, a getaway driver trying to break free from a life of crime, is taken too seriously for Wright to utilise the exact techniques that separate his films from other stock-standard action affairs. Shying away slightly from his comedic forte, Baby Driver is then left lying predominantly on its action. These moments in the movie, the heart-pumping chase sequences, gunfights and coffee runs, are excellent. They are fun, exciting and fuelled by a killer soundtrack, but they are not fuelled by anything else.
The main character’s motivation and backstory are nothing new and they add very little, in terms of stakes, to these scenes. The action itself is also few and far between, with a lackluster lull in the centre of the film. If it weren’t for the over-the-top characters (with notably excellent performances from John Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Eiza González) and the toe-tapping, diverse music choices, it would be difficult to distinguish Baby Driver from its other counterparts on the action shelf.
Saying that, the music and action beats alone are reason enough to see this film, and although it doesn’t break new ground, you would be hard pressed to find better set pieces in any other genre piece this year outside of John Wick 2.
By no means director Edgar Wright’s best work, Baby Driver offers enough thrills and kills to justify a visit to your local cinema for what can only be described as an above average, popcorn flick with its foot on the peddle and its ear to the drum.
★★★½ (3½ stars)
Baby Driver is currently in cinemas.