Baby Driver (2017): Edgar Wright’s Technical Capabilities Shine Bright In This Delightfully (And Occasionally Brutal) Addition To His Stellar Filmography (Review)

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[Credit: TriStar Pictures]
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Baby Driver tells the story of a young driver who drives named Baby (hence Baby… Driver, see?) who drives for a crime boss named Doc and the various mixtapes he creates in order to drown out the tinnitus he developed following a horrific crash when he was young. Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza González, Lily James and Jon Bernthal and is directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.)

Edgar Wright Answers A Twitter Question

Before we begin the review, Exclaim! had a Twitter Q&A with Baby Driver director Edgar Wright in June. Of course I had to ask a question since the Cornetto Trilogy is unlike any other and if you’re interested in knowing which character from any film he’s directed he’d love to take a long, scenic car ride with, click the play button!

 

(For the click haters: Debora from Baby Driver, Ramona from Scott Pilgrim or Ed from Shaun Of The Dead)


My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

I don’t think I related to a character more than when I was watching Baby (Ansel Elgort) jam out in his own little musical world to whatever song was blaring on his headphones. There have certainly been more than 100 occasions when I was the star of a moody Norah Jones hit as I sat on the bus with the rain pounding on the window as the vehicle slowly made its way toward my final destination… Now that I’ve shared too much about the inner workings of my mind, on to Baby Driver!

Like many, Baby Driver was one of my most anticipated films of this year. When it comes to the prospect of films that focus on the beauty that is driving cars incredibly fast while managing to stay in control the entire time, I become giddy with excitement. What Edgar Wright managed to capture in terms of the driving element of Baby Driver is nearly perfect. As much as I enjoy the bombastic CG-heavy flicks of the contemporary age, Wright’s dedication for the practical effects usage in this film is more than duly noted and something I’ll touch on a little further down in the review as I like to reserve this section of the review for the characters/story elements.

| Nostalgia’d Review: Drive (2011) |

The supporting cast of Baby Driver is on their absolute A-game. As a ginormous Jon Hamm fan, I was not surprised at all of the sheer amount of chemistry he and on-screen love interest Eiza González shared on screen. Someone I was thoroughly looking forward to seeing besides Hamm was my favourite aspect of The Walking Dead, Jon Bernthal and I enjoyed all 8 seconds of his appearance in the film. You could really tell Jamie Foxx was relishing every moment he was screen because although he was relatively one note throughout it, he dominated with that one component of his character. Kevin Spacey as head boss, Frank Underwood Doc is just magnificent. All we know of him and the relationship/deal he and Baby share works for Baby’s character but the little snippets we get of his life outside of the crime world were hysterical – his nephew truly was a major standout. The heightening of the stakes as the film progresses is a vital component to it and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing each respective hit that was planned out and executed.

All the humour featured between the bad guys of the crew works so well because of how great they all work off each other despite them only knowing each other for that one job. The Michael Myers gag had me cracking tf up! I have no idea why I found it as funny as I did, especially since it didn’t drag on or anything, but I love the notion that someone who hears “Michael Myers” thinks of my fellow groovy Canadian rather than my favourite on-screen slasher… And his Captain Kirk-inspired Halloween mask.

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[Credit: TriStar Pictures]

In terms of the titular Baby and his relationship with another one of my absolute favourites, Lily James, who portrays the waitress-next-door, Debora, their relationship could have been developed a bit better. Both Elgort and James are delightful in their respective roles, however I felt their relationship was ultimately underdeveloped and rushed. James really wasn’t given that much to work with despite her being one of the better young actresses today. As their relationship is a key aspect to the film working, it didn’t take me too much out of it since the two are so charismatic, however it definitely played down my enthusiasm a bit.

The film really wouldn’t have worked without having the best Baby on board and I thought Elgort did a stellar job as the calm, cool and totally-not-slow driver. Because of how incredibly lived in the world feels – a testament to Wright’s impeccable work – all the interactions Baby has with others feels organic. The city streets and pedestrians making their way to whatever truly feels like an actual sidewalk that had a bunch of dogs take their pee breaks on and frustrated humans cursing their fellow brethren under their breath (believe me, these are compliments). When I watch a film and realize I could potentially see myself living there, I am immediately immersed in it. Baby Driver feels like a world I witness everyday.

How Were The Other Aspects Of ‘Baby Driver’?

In an interview, Wright reveals having the music that is played throughout the film being played on set (via earbuds for the actors) during filming in order to suit the choreographed sequences which blend flawlessly on beat to their respective song. This dedication is illustrated brilliantly on the big screen and is ultimately a benefit for the moviegoer as you’re watching such incredible sequences that are majorly heightened by the song choice, however they still work regardless of whether a song is playing or not. There were maybe one or two songs I wasn’t a huge fan of, however a majority of the choices made fit in perfectly with their scenes. It’s essentially a musical that really isn’t a musical.

Wright also makes a note to feature the ringing in Baby’s ears occasionally which allows the audience to further step into the shoes of our protagonist. It is never overwhelming and thoroughly enhances whatever predicament he’s in since it’s virtually impossible to focus on whatever task is at hand when that persistent ringing is present… Not sure why he didn’t pull off that patented Sterling Archer “MAWP” when it occurred but hey, I don’t judge.

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[Credit: TriStar Pictures]

As mentioned, every sequence involving a car is executed fantastically. I’m really not one of those who takes my trusty pitchfork out whenever the “practical v. CGI” debate arises, if the film works with CGI then utilize that, if it works with practical then practical it is. There’s simply just a selfish adoration I have for this particular work where I know virtually every single thing I see on screen wasn’t filmed in front of an awkwardly huge green or blue screen. Similarly to the love I feel for the opening highway scene in last year’s La La Land, that opening sequence in Baby Driver where you’re witnessing these insane movements this car is managing to pull off is simply mind boggling.

Can I also commend this film for managing to execute some ridiculously fantastic gun sequences? I love me some violent shootouts and there’s a reason why you’ll hear about that “Tequila” sequence whenever Baby Driver is brought up.

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[Credit: TriStar Pictures]

If you’re looking for an unbelievably smashing good time at the theatre and would like to see some magnificent car sequences set to some incredible tunes, check out Baby Driver.

Baby Driver receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads.

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