Two years ago, it was hard to guess where Edgar Wright's career might be heading: he had wrapped up his trilogy of UK parodies, burned out retinas with his fun if overdone VFX orgy Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and got booted off Ant-Man after years of prep. It's a relief to see him emerge from this limbo with his first solo screenplay, especially as the result is the irresistible heist picture Baby Driver.
Baby-faced Ansel Elgort plays the titular character, who's paying off a debt to a local crime lord (Kevin Spacey) by working as a getaway driver for a revolving door of scummy bank robbers, chief among them Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx. When Baby meets a beautiful waitress (Lily James) and is subsequently promised "one last job", you can guess where Baby Driver is going. And I suppose on a macro level, the film is predictable. But the way it arrives at that predictable ending is much less predictable, if you follow me.
Aside from a show-offy opening credits sequence, this is Wright's most straightforward work, lacking his usual in-jokes and cutting to the chase, often literally. The cleverest – or, perhaps, clever-cleverest – thing about the film is its interplay between the hip tunes Baby listens to on his massive collection of iPods and the car chases and shootouts he finds himself in the middle of. That's not a criticism, by the way – those chases and shootouts are awesome.
Though a little thin on emotional depth (at least by Wright standards), Baby Driver delivers on all other fronts. It's fast-paced, well-plotted, expertly shot and edited, and the ensemble is perfectly cast. It's always a treat to see an original action flick during yet another summer filled with bloated sequels and adaptations. If supporting such a thing matters to you, then Baby Driver will not disappoint.