In a rare passion project that worked, both box office success and delight from audiences were the rewards reaped by Edgar Wright's Baby Driver, with most floored by the meticulous attention to detail in the editing of the film. Action scenes were painstakingly matched to music; character gestures and physical action on the screen exactly mimicking the downbeats, rhythms, and special effects of the songs to which they were cut.
Baby Driver was not Wright's first entry into the action genre, nor his first film loaded with catchy and fast-paced music that connects closely to the in-scene action. With his latest joy ride still fresh in many of our minds, let's take a look back at some of the best moments from #EdgarWright's career that perfectly blended music and mayhem.
Bar Fight - 'Shaun of the Dead' (2004)
- Release: 2004
- Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield
- Song: "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen
In Wright's major studio directorial debut, and first entry in the Cornetto trilogy that propelled him and stars Nick Frost and Simon Pegg to international stardom, the director's love of action set to music was already evident in #ShaunoftheDead.
As the film enters its bloody and fast-paced final act, Shaun and his group of survivors are holed up in the local pub before being attacked by the bar owner-turned-zombie. Right before the fight begins, the jukebox kicks on with Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now," frustrating the human characters but providing for a hilariously dynamic action scene.
Wright and the actors in the scene do a phenomenal job of timing every hit and swing of the pool cues being used as weapons to coincide with every little note and pound of the drums and cymbals in the song, adding an extra layer of intensity and fun to a zombie fighting scene.
First Evil Ex - 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' (2010)
- Release: 2010
- Stars: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin
- Song: "Slick (Patel's Song)" by Satya Bhabha
Having music and musicians as an actual theme in the film makes it easier for a director to structure the action in a scene, but Wright's keen eye for blending the two elements shows multiple times throughout #ScottPilgrimvstheWorld.
While playing the first round of the Battle of the Bands, Scott Pilgrim and his band Sex Bob-Omb are interrupted by Matthew Patel, a mystical-powered man who is one of Ramona Flowers' evil exes that Scott must fight to date Ramona.
The writing in the song features a lot of clever lyrics and a catchy tune that when combined with Bhabha's vocal skills and Wright's slick direction, it creates a thrilling and explosive conclusion to his and Scott's fight.
Opening Getaway - 'Baby Driver' (2017)
- Release: 2017
- Stars: Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal
- Song: "Bellbottoms" by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
One key to a great movie, especially in the action genre, is to feature an opening scene that is fast-paced and indicative of what audiences can expect for the rest of the film. Wright's driving thriller not only delivered one of the most stylish opening sequences of the summer, but also one of the best of this decade.
In the six-minute opening sequence of #BabyDriver, we see getaway driver Baby and a suspicious-looking crew pull up outside a bank. While the other three head inside to rob the bank, Baby keeps the car running outside to be ready for the getaway. As he waits, Baby sings and drums along to the song playing in the car until the team jumps back in the car, after which he speeds away from hordes of police cars with the song still playing in his earbuds.
The silence of the team in the car leading up to the heist paired with the building music did a masterful job at creating tension from the start, as well as introducing us to our protagonist and his love for his music. As the energetic chase begins between him and the police, the song's fast-paced instrumentals help keep audiences on the edge of their seats as we see Baby's quick thinking and impressive driving skills play out on screen.
The Beehive - 'The World's End' (2013)
- Release: 2013
- Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan
- Song: "20 Seconds to Comply" (World's End Bomb Squad mix re-edit) by Silver Bullet
As the Cornetto trilogy progressed and Wright ramped up the action and comedy with each sequel, there was more use of original composed music in the films than licensed tracks edited in to the scenes in the film, but #TheWorldsEnd showed a return to licensed tracks, including one pivotal fight scene at the end of the second act of the film.
During a night out, our group of protagonists have reached the ninth pub on the Golden Mile crawl after learning that one of their group members and their former schoolteacher have been replaced by android copies. In order to make it to the next pub, they must fight their way through a daunting wave of robots. During the fight, a remix of British rapper Silver Bullet's song "20 Seconds to Comply" can be heard underlying the punches and ensuing chaos around them.
The combination of Bullet's percussive rapping and the electric scratching of a record help keep Wright's one-shotesque fight scene flowing effortlessly and with a fierce energy that makes every punch feel more powerful, every joke land harder and every android's "death" all the more gratifying for audiences.
The Vegan - 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' (2010)
- Release: 2010
- Stars: Michael Cera, Brandon Routh, Brie Larson
- Song: "Bass Battle" by Nigel Goldrich, Jason Faulkner and Justin Meldal-Johnsen
Even during violent scenes in musicals, it's not often the music itself is involved in bringing down the enemy, but Scott Pilgrim is the rare occasion where two enemies use literal music to fight each other.
After an awkward run-in with an ex, Scott is forced to fight her current beau, Todd Ingram—who also happens to be Scott's current girlfriend's third evil ex. After struggling to fight against Todd's vegan telepathic powers, Scott instead challenges him to a full-on bass battle.
Cera and Routh not only do a fantastic job of both mimicking and actually playing the intense cords from the freestyle bass lines, but Wright's incorporation of the notes into the editing of the scene and the fight is really a marvel to watch and will stay with you long after you've watched the movie.
The Chase - 'Baby Driver' (2017)
- Release: 2017
- Stars: Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez
- Song: "Hocus Pocus" by Focus
When characters get in trouble and have to run, most don't think about little things such as what car to take and how to ditch the clothes they're wearing to throw off their pursuers. They certainly don't worry about the music they listen to during the chase. Baby, as he so often proved during the movie, is a key exception.
After botching a post office heist due to Baby's distaste for the violent methods of one of the crew, they find themselves on the run from the police on foot. Baby separates himself from the pack and eludes police with a fast-paced sprint-slash-obstacle course through a park and a mall as Focus' instrumental-heavy "Hocus Pocus" plays.
This extended chase sequence showcases Wright's attention to detail in crafting the action sequences around the music, with all of the gunfire perfectly syncing up to the quick percussive notes of the song, in addition to the various crashing and glass breaking around Baby during his escape.
Wright has illustrated in nearly every one of his films his love for music and incorporating it into the action scenes of his movies, and with five upcoming films currently in development and production, fans can look forward to more of the brilliant English director's stylish mind on screen.
What are your favorite Edgar Wright scenes? Let us know in the comments below!