For those who don't know, the concept behind the film is that it's basically a musical, but instead of song and dance numbers, there are gun fights and car chases timed to the music. Apparently, Edgar Wright has been kicking this idea around in his head for 22 years, and it's something that you can see throughout. The roots of it can be seen in the sequence in Shawn of the Dead where they beat the zombie with pool cues to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now." Even Scott Pilgrim had a full fledged musical number in it, so it wasn't a long stretch for him to make something like this.
The story itself is a fairly well-worn tale of Baby, a young man who owes money to the mob and falls for a girl right before his 'one last job.' The characters themselves also fall into fairly common categories: professional mob boss, psycho criminal, but the dialog and performances really make them all stand out. Jamie Foxx's Bats is the perfect dangerously unpredictable partner, intimidating enough to scare the normally tough as nails Buddy, played wonderfully by Jon Hamm. The romance between Baby and Debora grabs you right by the heart, thanks to charming performances by Ansel Elgort and Lily James. They even make the cliche 'two people falling for each other while sharing head phones' scene feel fresh.
The dialog in this film is all sharp and keeps everything moving at an intense clip. Every line seems to be a perfect response to the previous, but not in a stilted and unrealistic way. There are some really amazing exchanges that find smart ways to slowly ratchet up the tension line by line. The plot also takes a ton of really smart turns that become unpredictable by the end. Wright is usually known for his comedy, so I was surprised how much more of a crime/heist drama this was than I thought it would be. There were some very funny moments, and the action was flashy and thrilling, but I found myself thoroughly invested in Baby and Debora's plight.
Speaking of the action scenes, that's what really sets this movie apart. The car chases, which were filmed practically, are more thrilling than anything I've seen since Mad Max. The visual storytelling involved in the sequences were astounding, telling a complete story using nothing but fast cars and gun shots. There are some car stunts in this film that I've never seen anywhere else. Not only were the chases and fights amazing, but the way they were synced to music made them something unbelievable. The timing and dedication need to edit these sequences is astonishing, and all the hard work paid off. The gunfight set to a Tequila cover was really something to behold.
I'm not usually a big music person, but this film's mind for music really helped add a ton of personality and set it apart from a standard heist film. From what I remember, every scene in the film has music playing in the ears of Baby, and each scene is informed and paced to the song. It's such a hip move that makes the film into something special.
Edgar Wright is such a talented filmmaker, and I hope that this film is a hit. After spending so much time working on Ant-Man only to drop out before the film was made, he deserves to have his talents recognized with a commercial hit. This is probably his most marketable film, so hopefully it will find a way to connect with mainstream audiences in ways that Scott Pilgrim vs the World didn't. Baby Driver proves that he is one of the most vibrant filmmakers working today, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what he does next.