Spoiler-free road ahead
This film deserves your box office money. Twice.
If you thought action films and popular music was becoming a stale combination, you are so sorely mistaken. Not only is Baby Driver a technical feat and very accessible, but it is the most fun I’ve had at the movies all year.
People say no new ideas come out of Hollywood anymore, and while this movie is a mix of concepts we’ve all seen before, it is so utterly refreshing and unique. Baby Driver manages to be stylish, bombastic and entertaining without sacrificing any emotional weight, all to the beat of an eclectic collection of killer tracks. Don’t get it twisted, this movie is not a drawn-out music video. The soundtrack is so deeply integrated into the film that it borders on being a musical— a heist-romance-action-musical, with touches of thriller and Americana— and every second of it is a second well-spent.
Along with the music, the incredible ensemble cast propels the movie forward. Every character feels fleshed out enough to warrant the A-list actors and their charismatic performances, most notably Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm. Ansel Elgort himself, whom I believed might only contribute a passable performance, has the enthusiasm and range that aids in making his lead role so compelling. Elgort’s portrayal of Baby is rooted in common crime film clichés— the stoic, silent, rogue-ish criminal with a heart of gold. He’s reserved and endearing, sometimes even cocky, all at the appropriate moments. His outfit even channels the classic ‘Han Solo’ look. Despite all this, Baby possesses a real innocence and remorse that I don’t think we see in other crime film characters without all the gritty noir undertones. There is a genuine youthfulness to his Baby, which is obviously aided by Elgort’s own age and BABY-face (I am so sorry), resulting in a very likeable and empathetic protagonist.
I would specifically like to address the romance in Baby Driver, as I assumed that it would be the weakest part of the film going in. Director Edgar Wright’s films are heavily stylized, and while I didn’t find his style-over-substance approach to detract from my enjoyment, I did expect it to hamper the love story and make it paper-thin.
This may be up for debate, but I gladly assert that Baby and Debra are an extremely compelling and likeable couple. Sure, their relationship moves pretty fast, but that is precisely the point. Not only that, but Ansel Elgort and Lily James have fantastic chemistry. Their dialogue is just as stylish as the movie, at times coming off unnatural, but their seemingly genuine interest in one-another is so adorable and infectious that never once found myself questioning their relationship. These two actors are wonderful and make a great team. While many have complained that the couple is hard to buy into, I didn’t think twice.
With that said, the great action makes the film an absolute blast. There are some crazy good driving stunts and chase scenes in this movie, and while it isn’t all action all the time, it is definitely thrilling— with some of the best practical action I’ve seen since Mad Max: Fury Road. As I mentioned earlier, music is so key to this film that it’s even interwoven with action sequences. Hearing Baby’s iPod playlist match visual and action cues on-screen might sound cheesy on paper, but is a great touch in practice. Drums pound alongside gunshots, guitars wail over peeling rubber, and it all adds to a sense of rhythm and tension unique to Baby Driver.
As for the rest of the plot, Baby Driver proudly wears crime movie tropes on its sleeve while subverting them when you least expect it. I won’t get into spoilers here, but I often found myself genuinely surprised at moments I expected to find predictable, and at characters I expected to have different arcs. This subversion is accompanied by Edgar Wright’s masterfully smooth and snappy editing, which helps gives the movie a brisk feel without seeming too short. With the slightest panning of the camera, to longer tracking shots, and even with the simplest cuts, Wright can make entire changes to time and setting and the audience would never be lost. His style is quirky but it all flows so satisfyingly well. I don’t think it would be too controversial call Baby Driver Edgar Wright’s best work yet.
Overall, this is by far my favorite movie of the year thus far and I hope it kills at the box office. This movie didn’t take much to make (roughly $30 million plus marketing) and great word of mouth is already pretty rampant. I just hope people take the chance on something original and head to the theater. This week is very important for Baby Driver’s box office performance in particular, as next week will see the release of a little indie flick named Spider-Man: Homecoming, which will no doubt own the weekend. The week after that will be even tougher with the premiere of the already beloved War of the Planet of the Apes. So if you’re planning for a weekend movie and you’ve already picked one of the blockbusters above, try to squeeze in Baby Driver somehow. It is worth seeing at the cinema, even on an off-day during the workweek. Alone. In the rain. It is that good.
Baby Driver isn’t deep. It isn’t a gritty crime noir. It’s a well-made and youthful tribute to heist films that puts style and summer fun above all else, without detracting from what makes the story and characters so meaningful and compelling. It also has a damn good soundtrack.
Please, treat yourself to this film. It’s a total blast to watch and hear and it will no doubt tug on the heartstrings if you have some semblance of a heart. Edgar Wright has seriously outdone himself with this one, and I cannot wait to see it again. And believe me, I will.
So what did you think of Baby Driver? Was he slow? Feel free to leave comment to express yourself because you totally can. Or don’t. Free country
mostly. Anyway, Thanks for taking the time to read all that nonsense!