*This is one of eight films that I saw during a summer traveling around Europe. I did not write full reviews for these movies, but I have shared mini-reviews that were originally posted on social media to Sitting In The Cinema*
Edgar Wright is my favorite director. Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World remain two of my favorite films of all time. Even with the favorability of a fan, I must admit that I think Baby Driver is his weakest film. It's still good- just not one of the greats.
Throughout years of adoring Wright's oeuvre, I've tentatively hoped the day wouldn't come that his style swallows his substance, but I feel Baby Driver marks that point. Never have his direction, soundtrack, visual flair, and high-gear pacing been so precise. But it's also his least human film.
Which is odd, because it's ostensibly his first movie to take place in the real world. In his classic Cornetto trilogy and in Scott Pilgrim, Wright uses his zippy, cunning perfectionism to uplift the zany world around his characters- and the screenplays challenge the conflicts and humanity to rise just as dizzyingly high.
Baby Driver is Wright's first solo screenplay in 13 years, and it could've used a dash of Simon Pegg collaboration. Wright's style blurs out key character arcs- which is not an objectively bad thing, plenty of masterpieces thrive on shifting primary focus to style (Refn's getaway driver masterwork Drive is an apt comparison)- but weak writing asks us to care about them still.
The romance and Baby's backstory rarely feel like more than bland pieces of a fine-tuned engine, which becomes more of a problem when the film requires emotional investment in them to work (especially the ending). On the positive side again, Baby Driver is one of modern filmmaking's best auteurs injecting the "fun summer movie" genre with verve and musicality. It's a damn good thrill, if not a great one. There are better car chase movies and musicals, but few combos.
Weak Edgar Wright is still worthwhile.