Baby Driver review Edgar Wright puts pedal to the metal for wildly enjoyable heist caper

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This high-revving thrill ride about a music-obsessed teenage getaway driver is a terrifically stylish piece of work with a banging soundtrack

In 2011 a resident of Oakland, Michigan, caused a sensation by bringing a lawsuit against Nicolas Winding Refns film Drive for not having enough actual pedal-to-the-metal driving in it. That same person could hardly do the same to Edgar Wright, director of this outrageously enjoyable petrolhead heist caper, unless it would be for not showing a supercool adult chauffeur atop a Pamper-wearing infant with a steering wheel between its tiny shoulder blades roaring up the M25.

The title of Baby Driver alludes to the extreme insouciant youth of its wheelman hero, played by Ansel Elgort, and a certain track that unspools over the closing credits. It is a terrifically stylish and exciting piece of work, a summer movie cool enough to induce brain freeze, like an episode of James Cordens carpool karaoke directed by Walter Hill.

Elgort plays a brilliant teenage getaway driver working for Kevin Spaceys equally deadpan Doc, a man who masterminds well-planned bank robberies with a crew including the chiselled Buddy (Jon Hamm), badass Darling (Eiza Gonzlez) and the scarily unstable Bats (Jamie Foxx). Baby needs continuous music from his range of antique iPods to give him inspiration, miming along to the track while he chucks his car around in breathtaking stunts. Its also because he suffers from tinnitus and needs the music to drown out the noise.

Baby Driver is a little like Jean-Jacques Beineixs 80s Parisian thriller Diva, with its tape providing soundtrack excitement, and giving us a popping score that comes somewhere between diegetic and non-diegetic music: music that is supposed to exist literally in the action, that is, the music coming from Babys earphones, and music that exists only on the soundtrack, imposed from without. There are times when the explosions and gunshots coincide with drum breaks too neatly to be purely a realist coincidence, and that is part of the joke and part of the effect.

Baby is a guy with unhappy memories, revealed in flashback montages. He is not really a criminal his brilliance at driving and obsession with music stem from an early-years trauma and he is being forced by Doc to perform these robberies. But then Baby meets and falls in love with a waitress at a diner where his late mother used to work, and this is Debora, winningly played by Lily James.

Baby diner Lily James and Ansel Elgort. Photograph: Allstar/Sony Pictures Releasing

Its such a funny and engaging film, packed with sheer brio and good nature, showcased most entertainingly in Babys amble down the street to get coffee for his comrades, and then his amble back, showing all the resulting streetscape vignettes in reverse. Theres an inspired use of the Damneds Neat Neat Neat. If I had a quarrel with the picture, it is that the connoisseur pop is sometimes made to work too easily to provide instant ambient pleasure that might otherwise come from a finely tuned screenplay, with verbal riffs and linguistic hooks of the sort that Tarantino wrote for True Romance or Pulp Fiction. Wright brilliantly used Queens Dont Stop Me Now in his 2004 debut Shaun of the Dead. Here he brings out Queens Brighton Rock. Good call. But I wonder if, like Wayne and Garth in Waynes World, he could have been unafraid of obviousness and simply cranked up the greatest in-car Queen choice.

But these are just quibbles, and there is actually a lot of ambient verbal pleasure here. I loved the robbers quarrel in the car about their names, and it needing to be pointed out that these are just their nicknames, handles or monikers confusingly, because Darlings name is Monica.

Like all car chase movies, Baby Driver sticks to the essentially romantic convention that the high-speed evasion of pursuit by the forces of the law is that part of criminality that is miraculously and almost redemptively sinless and victimless, dangerous only for the baddies. There is no question of the getaway car accidentally running over an innocent bystander, which is what happens with real-world car chases all the time.

And here, Baby is concerned to prevent needless death, often with acrobatic genius, and of course miming along with eerie accuracy to some exquisitely chosen pop hits. Weirdly, it started to remind me of Dennis Potters Pennies from Heaven. What a rush.

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