Cue the music. Our hero, Baby, sits in a cherry red Subaru Impreza WRX, waiting to spear off into the distance after a dastardly bank heist. He's got tinnitus from a childhood accident. He only works with earphones so the music drowns out his pain. And when the music drops, so does our hero's foot… onto the accelerator.
Cue the sideways. Baby, now with cargo on-board (robbers, money, attitude), is on the run from the cops, and manages to do things to the Scooby that are probably banned in several countries. He powerslides. He J-turns. He rockets through the streets and alleyways of Atlanta like a demented Uber driver.
And… breathe. This initial chase sequence sets off one of the most thrilling, inventive and original heist movies you'll likely ever see. And, happily for petrolheads, is actually one of the best driving movies you'll ever watch. No argument.
It follows our hero, Baby (Ansel Elgort), working for Atlanta crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) as a getaway driver, with a roster of goons for hire (Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx) robbing banks. But what makes this unique is that director Wright mapped out the music first, and laid down the action and beats on top.
It's a thriller like no other. It's essentially a very, very cool musical, with the hero-forced-to-do-one-last-job plotline as the window dressing. The character beats—even their movements—follow the beats to each handpicked song, and amazingly, it all works seamlessly.
It's a wonderful soundtrack too, featuring everything from Motown to T-Rex to Queen, and follows the plot laying out the highs and lows in sonic fashion. And of course, choreographs the chase scenes with impeccable detail.
The stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott previously worked on The Bourne Ultimatum and John Wick—both notable for their high-energy car scenes—and everything you see on screen was real. No CGI. You can spot, for example, the moment when the WRX's front wheels eventually wake up following a slide and bring the nose back into play. It’s this attention to detail that'll make you appreciate just what an achievement the driving really is.
The Scooby isn't the hero car, mind. There’s all sorts of machinery knocking around in Baby Driver, including a Chevrolet Caprice (which Baby drifts 180 on the spot in a hilarious beat), a Chevy Cruze (yeah, we know), an AMG S-Class (we couldn't tell if it was the S63 or S65), and even a Dodge Challenger. Not a Hellcat, but heck, the amount of sideways it presents on screen will make you squeal with delight in any case.
A triumph, then, barring the odd pacing misstep. It's also a fine addition to the canon of driving films. We reckon it’s up there with Bullitt, The French Connection and the like. If you've seen it, let us know if you agree below.
Cue the music…
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.