Baby Driver, the new Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) film that opens nationwide today, is a thrilling, kick ass love letter to cinema and music that can not be missed. It's the type of movie that is filled with references and tributes to all the obsessions that fuel the director's passion for filmmaking but at the same time manages to transcend that and deliver something that feels truly new, exhilarating and brilliant.
In the same manner that a modern musical like La La Land could not exist without being a cinematic of the classics of that particular genre, Wright takes the concept of an action film and spins it with a playlist shock full of killer music tracks. For film lovers this is the type of movie that needs to be studied and dissected for various lessons on mise-en-scène, rhythm and precision. For regular folks who just want to go to the movies and be entertained, it's just a hell of a good time.
While the concept of the script may seem familiar, a getaway driver who sees a way out of a life of crime but has to do one last job that goes all wrong, but the film is all about the perfect execution of Wright's ambitions as a filmmaker. The action in the first five minutes of this film puts to shame all the CGI mess of all the Fast and Furious films put together. And even though this is the main reason to see the film, as a screenwriter Wright manages to constantly surprise and even break new ground.
Any comparison to Quentin Tarantino would seem unfair, but in his own way Wright manages to pull off Tarantino's best cinematic trick. He fills the screen with his obsessions, influences and homages and still manages to make something new and fresh and dazzling. In this particular case the main difference is that Tarantino loves to put his cinematic fusion through a deadly blender, while Wright builds and builds like a confident DJ who knows he's got more than one killer track up his sleeve and who will manage to leave you on a big note before his set is over.
While actors like Jon Hamm and Jamie Fox have a blast spinning the mystery of their criminals into unexpected moments of action and violence, and Ansel Elgort takes all the challenges thrown at him as the title character and makes the effortless, the films secret weapon is Kevin Spacey. His character's main function is to facilitate the plot, as he plays the mastermind behind all the heist that Baby has to speed away from, but the actor takes the tone of Wright's writing and does something special. No matter what shade of slick, twisted humor he gets to say, Spacey perfectly captures all the tonal shifts of the film and makes them a total delight.
I don't think it's an accident that this film fits perfectly with a filmography that includes Seven, The Usual Suspects and American Beauty. Each of those films present itself as an exercise in genre moviemaking and then does something truly special. Baby Driver provides the same sort of cinematic gratification with a killer soundtrack to boot.
Baby Driver hits theaters Wednesday, June 28th.