Overall: 19/20 – A
Talk fast. Drive fast. Live fast. Die fast. That’s the theme for writer/director Edgar Wright’s latest film, Baby Driver. Most known for his work on Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Wright has made an explosive new action film that delivers high octane adventure, an even edgier soundtrack, and a story with heart.
Meet Baby. That’s not his real name of course. It’s a moniker. All the cool kids have them these days. At least they do if they are into being the wheelman for a stylin’ businessman with some interesting connections and penchant for robbery. Baby is a baby-faced getaway driver who’s trying to pay a debt owed to Doc, the brains behind a long string of robberies who considers Baby his good luck charm. After the debt is paid, Baby gets called in for one last job. But when the crew goes off the rails crazy, his girlfriend is threatened, and the job goes south, Baby takes matters into his own hands and tries his best to save his girl, his boss, and his own life.
The script was snappy, intelligent, funny yet serious, and paced to perfection. The only issue I have is a lack of a backstory for Baby but mostly that comes down to wanting to know more about a very successfully created character. However as lacking as his past was, the audience grows and learns with Baby and truly gets a feel for the character. None of the other characters are very well developed other than being identified as career criminals perhaps with the exception of Jon Hamm’s character Buddy. Most characters stay true to form, but Doc’s switch at the end seemed mildly out of character.
Ansel Elgort plays the title role of Baby. His baby-faced charm has been seen in several well-known movies including The Fault in Our Stars, and the Divergent series. However, this is the first action flick where he plays the lead and he does a brilliant job. His character is not known for talking, which means that a lot of his stellar acting skills have to manifest themselves in body language and through his music choices. He is definitely a rising actor and his future is looking bright. His mentor/keeper/blackmailer is none other than Kevin Spacey of House of Cards fame. His recent performance at the Tony Awards notwithstanding, Spacey is a fantastic fast talking, crime boss. He is one of the constants in this crazy world and his acting is on point.
Rounding out the crew is a mix of well-known and newbies such as Jamie Foxx as Bats, Jon Hamm as Buddy, and Eiza González as Darling. Lily James plays opposite Ansel as his girlfriend Debora. It’s a far-cry from her Downton Abbey days, but she meshes well with the group and provides some great moral support for our hero. Hopefully she has good things in store for her future career. All of the actors did a fantastic job snapping out the fast dialogue in a faster, grittier version of Ocean’s Eleven only without the successful job part.
I would love to see the storyboards for this movie. There were a handful of main sets which were fairly bland in appearance, but since this is a character driven show, then that’s not that surprising. What is truly fantastic are the epic car chase scenes most of which are not a product of CGI. Set in urban Atlanta, there are lots of alleyway chases, and freeway dashes that make this a truly enjoyable action movie to watch.
The music is what makes this movie what it truly is. Baby is rarely seen without earbuds and the inspired part, which both MB and I agreed on is that the movie is entirely from Baby’s perspective in both sight and sound. It is usual to have a POV based on visuals, but it’s another thing entirely when it’s based on sound as well. There are rarely scenes shot where Baby is not present and what Baby is listening to is literally the soundtrack of the movie. If he’s not listening to music, you get the ringing of his tinnitus (a hearing condition causing ringing in the ears) or silence. The rock and roll soundtrack is always present and through it you can easily gauge Baby’s mood. Another trick that I love is when action and music work hand and hand. Gunshots, punches, tires squealing, gears shifting, sounds by themselves that can become repetitive, but when actually used to punctuate the music makes for some amazing cinematography.
Overall, this is easily one of the best movies of 2017 and well-deserved of all the praise and accolades it has received so far. Fantastic acting skills are highlighted with an epic soundtrack and unique visuals to form the wonder that is Baby Driver.
Adults: Don’t be fooled by the action, there’s more plot than you expect, and the dialogue alone is worth the trip. This is a definite must for the movie theater.
Children: It’s rated R. Bad language is the primary reason, but there are some graphic scenes that you should probably not watch.