Edgar Wright’s hybrid action/comedy sped onto screens at reportedly the biggest slump cinema has experienced in some time, accelerating past many of the flaming wrecks of other 2017 movies and parking as one of the better films of the summer. Was that enough car puns for you? If not, plug yourself in and brace for more.

It’s been a while since Wright has been able to shine on-screen as writer and director, but it’s great to find him back behind the wheel. As one of the best of British filmmakers based on The Cornetto Trilogy alone, Spaced creator Wright this time directs a cast of heavy-hitting American actors, taking a genre with well-worn tyres and changing it up with his very distinctive directorial style.

Baby, a driver, as in, Baby Driver, as in, Baby On Board, drives for Goodfellas Pizza and a career criminal played by the legend Kevin Spacey, chaperoning bank-robbers and driving them to freedom with super-human driving ability. Having paid off his debts and fallen in love, Baby seeks to stall his criminal career and drive off into the sunset, only to be steered into one last job . Think Drive without the mute head-stomping hero.

Music is the engine of the film, the real driving force. What is refreshing in this respect is that the music is integral to Baby, a conscious choice made in pre-production rather than a lazy insert-vague-popular-music-in-post kind of choice. An incredible soundtrack constantly changes gears, never allowing the film to slow to traffic-level boredom as many mainstream monstrosities often maintain (how Michael Bay continues to make Transformers movies nearly 3 hours every time is enough to make one want to slip into something more comfortable – a self-induced coma).

Wright remains as inventive as ever, a genius of the visual-comedy and master of  intertexuality. The script is as simple as they come but manages to put relatable heart, soul and motivation into the lead played by Ansel Elgort. The film changes pace with some velocity, the audience finding themselves in one moment awed by the spectacle of a car chase well-stunted, in another cracking up at Wrights wit embodied by a stellar cast, and even touched in others by a subtle underlying plot that ties Baby’s motivations and criminal activities together masterfully.

On a highway full of junkers, wrecks, battered, worn-out flicks, or star vehicles of expensive body yet empty, soulless interiors, Baby Driver stands out as a pristine movie mobile. A fun, Hollywood film with an evident auteur stamp, Wright’s is a movie that you wouldn’t mind running you down, as missing it would drive you up the wall.

8/10

The Film Fanatic

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