So what is it that you do?
For those who know me fairly well, I am unabashedly a fan of Edgar Wright films and projects. He has such a unique style and passion for each of his projects, it’s always a delight to watch them. For those of you who don’t know who Edgar Wright is–let me give you a bit of a reminder. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Spaced–and most recently, The World’s End. All of them–pretty much required viewing, in my book.
That’s why I was so excited for his latest project, Baby Driver, even if on the surface I was nervous about it. It’s such a vast departure from what he’s done before–primarily very British works (yes, the one glaring exception would be Scott Pilgrim which was very Canadian). This film is set in Atlanta, Georgia of all places–as far removed from Britain as you could be. But damn it if he doesn’t do a fine job.
Baby Driver is all about a getaway driver named Baby who at a very young age was involved in a bad car accident that killed his folks. He survived the crash relatively safe except for a few scars. However, he developed a “hum in the drum” (Tinnitus) that he drowns out with music from his vast collection of iPods (a different iPod for different moods).
This one, they say that listens to the music all the time?
Right from the get go, music is front and center in this movie–basically wall to wall for every single scene–and not just one particular genre of music. Wright does an excellent job of playing “mixtape creator” while also having his editor probably go crazy matching up the scenes to each beat. One great example is of “Egyptian Reggae” being synced up to Doc, played by Kevin Spacey, counting money. It’s so pitch perfectly in sync with each other, it’s astounding–but it gets better because that’s the way the whole movie is. The music and picture are in harmony constantly and I cannot give enough praise in this department.
I’m a driver.
The cherry on top, or maybe even on par with the music selection, is the sheer action. The driving was simply fantastic, giving you an adrenaline rush that is propelled to new heights with a great beat. The best part about the driving? It was all real. Every single stunt done in this film with done practically, no computer trickery required. I know some people love The Fast and The Furious series because of the action beats–but I want you to look at how much of that was faked. There’s none of that in Baby Driver, and it really brings a grounded authenticity to the whole movie. Props to the amazing stunt team for pulling it off.
Is she a good girl? You love her?
Now we get to the other bits that make up Baby Driver–the story–and the characters / acting. The story itself is simple–Baby made a pretty large mistake and stole some hardware when he was young from Doc. Now, he’s just doing heists until he can clear that debt–and then he’s done.
However, the world of crime is a never ending beast–there’s always “one more job” and unfortunately just when things start to get good for Baby is when the stakes are never higher. He meets his dream girl, Deborah (played by Lily James) in a diner that his Mom used to work in. She’s pretty, has a beautiful voice and it’s easy to see why Baby, a moody, troubled youth with a mountain of problems would fall in love with her. She represents something pure and innocent and he really wants to be apart of that. Not only that, but he’s trying to escape a life of crime and do right by his deaf foster parent, Joseph (played by CJ Jones) who took care of Baby after his parents passed away–but now needs Baby to take care of him as he gets older. This story has been done before but these little nuances with Joseph, the death of Baby’s parents, the love story between Baby and Deborah–make the film much more grounded and easier to accept.
If I were to have any qualms about the story, it would be of that of Baby and Deborah. Angel Elgort and Lily James are super sweet together–opposites attract, so they say–but it feels like their relationship is a bit compressed in order to propel the dramatic tension forward. They spend a little bit of time with each other and by the end of the movie, they’re committed to basically being Bonnie and Clyde (something that is even acknowledged in the film!) just like that. I know love is love and it can make you do crazy things but damn, Deborah! You barely know the guy and you’re already willing to skip town with him!
The acting in this movie was pretty great across the board. Ansel Elgort is pitch perfect as Baby–switching between brooding, sad, and happy with ease. Kevin Spacey plays Doc with vicious delight (god damn, he always makes a great Villian), Lily James was wonderful as Deborah. John Berenthal is in very small role (“If you don’t see me again, I’m dead!”) but does his standard tough guy role so I guess it was okay.
The heavy hitters in this movie were, weirdly enough, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx. I’ve never seen Mad Men enough to know what Jon Hamm’s acting range is but damn, he can be charming and straight up murderous the next moment. It’s kind of terrifying. Jamie Foxx is also the definition of chaos here–reciting a quote to his crew before each hit of how “that’s our money, and they took it from us. Now we gotta get it back!” even though they’re just straight up robbing (and killing) people. There’s a reason why he’s called Bats.
Eiza Gonzalez plays a small role as Jon Hamm’s wife–and it’s kind of gross how in love they are with each other. You ever see couples who have no concept of too much PDA? That’s “Buddy” (Hamm) and “Darling” (Gonzalez). However, when push comes to shove–don’t piss this couple off. They are very goods with guns…
The moment you catch feelings is the moment you catch a bullet.
All in all–this was a great film. Sure, it had its weak moments with the love story (a bit cheesy, and rushed) but I would also argue that they were necessary to make everything more human. Ansel Elgort had such a surprise performance with this film, the music and action were simply delightful, and I suggest you see it on the big screen with loud speakers to fully appreciate everything in play.
Gotta go fast.
Rating: 9.5 / 10