OldKingClancy posted a MOVIE REVIEW item: 25 days ago

Baby Driver



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Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx
Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Official Site:
Plot: Was He Slow?

Review:

Since Shaunt Of The Dead, or even Spaced if you want to go back a little earlier, Edgar Wright has stood out as one of the most interesting directors around with a kinetic style of filmmaking that has carried all his films to cult status. With Baby Driver Wright takes on his first American film and captures that almost Western style of guns, robbers and lawbreakers, all set to arguably the best soundtrack of the year.

Baby is a getaway driver in Atlanta, working for crime boss Doc to pay off a debt he’s constantly proved himself to be a skilled and fearless driver with a control behind the wheel that nobody can match. With a final job in his sights and being out of Doc’s pocket forever, Baby has a chance encounter with Debora, a waitress at a local diner who shares his wish for escape, together the two of them start up a romance that Baby can finally put all of himself into. But of course, Doc has other plans and brings a reluctant Baby back into the crime life to drive his crew – drugged up lovers Buddy and Darling and unpredictable psychopath Bats – for another score. Caught between the life he knows and the life he wants, Baby has some big boy decisions to make.

To be completely honest the story is fairly simple, good-hearted kid in with a bad crew, wants one last job to retire and live with his girl but can’t get it. The point is we’ve seen this story before and while there are a few expectation subversions, for the most part it stick to a tried and true formula, however this ends up working in the film’s favour as it’s stylish execution is what makes the film so enjoyable so being able to keep up with the story and not get sidetracked with double-crosses or hidden agendas allows for its style to push the story forwards rather than the story dragging the style down.

Acting is a mostly strong bag, despite top billing Jon Bernthal is only in the film 5 minutes before leaving, there’s cameo roles from famous musicians like Flea and Paul Williams as two criminals under Doc’s payroll as well as Sky Ferreira in flashbacks as Baby’s mother. Real life deaf actor CJ Jones plays Baby’s adopted father Joe, while their inability to speak to each other may present a hardship but their shared difficulties with hearing allows them to connect on a stronger level because of their use of sign language.

Doc’s crew had their strong and weak character, Kevin Spacey seems to be playing Bastard Kevin Spacey as Doc, which in all fairness is never a bad thing and when he wants to be threatening he does so effortlessly, but that’s the problem this is very little effort for Spacey and Doc feels kinda forgettable despite being the primary villain for most of the film.

Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez play husband and wife team Buddy and Darling, both made for an interesting pair, clearly in it for the excitement and getting off on it, they were equal parts loved up and drugged up and their devotion for one another made them a deadly pair. Out of the two Hamm’s Buddy is the most interesting, especially in the third act when he takes on the role of the primary villain, Gonzalez is fun and nails the sexy bad girl role she’s going for, but the sheer desperation that Hamm puts on in the final act and his utter hatred for Baby makes him a far more interesting villain.

Jamie Foxx takes the prize for best character in the film as Bats, a violent, unpredictable loud mouth with a casual take on murder for his own benefit. The man is an enigma, often acting suddenly and without warning and then lying to cover his own tracks or maybe even to fool himself into thinking he’s in the right. It’s that never knowing what Bats will do or who he’ll kill that makes him so interesting and Foxx manages to make the character threatening without going overboard or making him feel too clichéd.

On a lighter note, Lily James stands out as Debora, taking what could’ve been a simple love interest and injecting the necessary charm and charisma to make the character work, you’re smitten with her the moment she’s on-screen and you can see why Baby falls for her but the addition of their shared love for music and wish for escapism adds more to their relationship. To get clichéd for a second they do come across as two lost souls, both with the means to get away but lacking that drive to make the final push and maybe they’ve found it in each other. The fact that Debora is willing to stay with Baby even after finding out about his real job shows a testament to her character and to James’ ability to make us believe she’d follow Baby through this shitshow.

Rounding out the cast was Ansel Elgort as the titular Baby, and it’s a shame to admit but Baby is the least interesting thing about his own film, Elgort is good in the role, the moments where Baby remembers his parents death allows him to showcase a very real sense of trauma and the thousand yard stare he pulls off is very effective. My issue is that Baby is suppose to come off as sweet and endearing, a baby alone in a grown-up world, I never got that from Elgort, he always seemed a little too smarmy, a little too self-confident which I guess in a way he needed to be to survive in this world but it just didn’t sit right at first. He did grow on me and his turn in the final act when he makes the decision to leave is where Elgort is at his strongest but that’s mostly dramatic work, the charisma he doesn’t have down just yet.

The real star of the show though is Edgar Wright, already proven himself with The Cornetto Trilogy as a way of sending up some of the iconic genres whole still paying homage to what makes them work and with Scott Pilgrim which feels like an actual videogame with a heavily stylised appeal that makes it impossible to catch everything at once. With this though, Wright returns to his music video beginnings and crafts a film which is not only driven by the music, but wholly set around it, from the opening scene of Bellbottoms you can see that this entire movie is choreographed to its soundtrack in a way that’s rarely been done outside of musicals.

It’s an incredible feat and even more so once you realise how many long takes there are, an early coffee run to Harlem Shuffle is nearly three minutes of dancing through the streets in one-take complete with song lyrics dotted through the street of Atlanta. Thankfully Wright doesn’t push himself that hard during the action sequences but he edits them in a manner fitting the song tempo, often cutting during a specific beat or completing an action during a riff, it’s unbelievable enough that Wright was able to set the film to its soundtrack but to have it come together in the editing allows the film’s central style to take form and blow everyone away, the Tequila shootout is a highlight while the Hocus Pocus (By Focus) chase is one of the standout scenes of the year.

More than just being stylish though, Wright never forgets to make the film fun, when the music kicks in you can feel yourself getting pumped up with the film and ready for anything, this type of action is nothing new but it’s the way Wright pulls it off that makes it feel so fresh and exciting. The aforementioned Tequila and Hocus Pocus (By Focus) are highlights but Wright also brings in some classics like Radar Love and Brighton Rock to keep the blood pumping as well as lesser known tracks like The Damned’s Neat Neat Neat. On top of that Wright captures the love story aspect with a soundtrack of soft rock and Motown, paying particular attention to the songs involving ‘baby’ which Debora points out there are millions, Carla Thomas’ B-A-B-Y kicks off Baby and Debora’s relationship, T-Rex’s Debora solidifies it with an upbeat declaration for the woman in the song and the woman listening to it, The Commodores’ Easy (as well as a cover from Sky Ferreira) are used to slow things down and allows Baby to appreciate what he has while Barry White’s Never Gonna Give You Up is used in both a fitting an ironic sense when Buddy has Baby and Debora dead-to-rights and you can tell Baby won’t give up on protecting Debora just as Buddy won’t give up on hurting Baby. The best part of the soundtrack is that there’s nothing that feels forced just because it’s popular, nothing here feels like a typical driving soundtrack but it’s still so fitting and ultimately better because of how unclichéd it becomes.

Baby Driver isn’t without its issues but it’s such a uniquely designed film that you can overlook its flaws and see the bigger picture of Wright’s reinvention of the crime genre, what it lacks in story is makes up for in sheer bravado for actually pulling it off and making it work as well as it does, I’ve seen it twice now and I’m still not sure if I’ve caught all the little editing tricks Wright’s put in but I know another viewing to try to is definitely in order.

8.5/10

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Other reviews of this film: Horrorfan99 (8/10) , TreyTheMovieMan (9/10) > Display all


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