Of the most important parts of a film, the soundtrack has always been key. It conveys the whole mood of the film more effectively than almost any other technique and a well curated tracklist can only serve to maximise its success (just look at Guardians of the Galaxy). However, no film has used music in quite the same way as director Edgar Wright's new high-octane heist thriller Baby Driver. The film is literally built around the soundtrack, an energetic bag of foot-tapping, head bobbing tunes that complement the action like never before.
Almost as impressive as the soundtrack is the star-studded cast that Wright has managed to pull together. An indicator of his increasing recognition in Hollywood (after the iconic comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and the simply flawless Scott Pilgrim vs The World), Wright pulls together a cast including Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Lily James, resulting in a set of stellar performances that complement each other perfectly.
Seeing Hamm and Spacey, two of recent TV's most infamous bad-boys in Mad Men and House of Cards respectively, together in a number of scenes is an absolute treat while Lily James delivers a disarmingly charming performance as waitress Debora, channelling a strong Shelley-Johnson-from-Twin-Peaks vibe.
Of course, the star of Baby Driver is Baby, played with seemingly effortless swagger by Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent). Despite the stellar supporting cast, Elgort dominates every scene with his mixture of level headed confidence and deep set vulnerability stemming from a tragic childhood accident.
It is almost impossible not to instantly like the charismatic Baby, whose use of music to drown out the tinnitus he has long suffered from results in a number of great off the cuff dance sequences. While the whole plotline of a traumatic childhood accident feels rather cliched and more than a little overdone, it takes a backseat most of the time and is thankfully handled with creativity and poise, again through the use of music.
While the trailers for Baby Driver made it seem like a frenetic, full on action flick, Wright thankfully spaces out the heist scenes, making time for some great character building and a fantastic script that packs in witty line after witty line with Tarantino-esque ease. In particular, Jamie Foxx's mentally unstable gunman Bats delivers many of the film's best lines and is a generally all around great character, a cold-blooded psychopath through and through.
When it does get down to the action though, Wright manages to kick it up another gear again to deliver some of the most seamless and pulse-racing heist sequences ever created. If you are one of those people who takes an odd sense of satisfaction when actions sync up with music (one of my personal favourites being the opening titles of 2001), then you will be in absolute heaven throughout Baby Driver.
Every twist and turn is perfectly timed to the rip-roaring soundtrack, with the opening heist set to the gloriously odd cult favorite Bellbottoms by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion a perfect example. It is an absolute masterclass in editing and if Baby Driver isn't nominated for at least a handful of editing awards then it will have been sorely underrated.
As with every film in Edgar Wright's filmography, Baby Driver is an endlessly creative, smartly written and energetically directed flick that is sure to be one of the year's most original films by far. In fact, I'd say it has much in common with Scott Pilgrim, both boasting stellar casts, killer soundtracks and enough ingenuity to throw a book at (or in Baby's case, an iPod.) I've seen a couple of reviews describe Baby Driver as a "car opera" and honestly, it's a perfect analogy. It's an oddly graceful affair that is poised to go down as another Edgar Wright classic.