[THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS OF MAJOR PLOT DETAILS IN THIS REVIEW]
“Baby Driver” is written and directed by the talented Edgar Wright and stars Ansel Elgort as Baby, a partially-deaf getaway driver for a crime boss played by Kevin Spacey. The film also stars Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, and Jamie Foxx as a few of the interesting criminals that Baby has to work with on these jobs for Kevin Spacey.
I had only heard small things about the premise of this movie before actually sitting down and watching it, although I instantly became a fan of Edgar Wright after watching “Scott Pilgrim vs The World” to the point where I tried to flag some of the scenes he may have been responsible for before leaving while I was watching “Ant-Man”. I very much enjoy what Wright does in his films in terms of cinematography and direction.
The gimmick that Wright goes for in this movie involves something everybody can relate to: music. Baby drowns out the perpetual ringing in his ear by listening to music, and Wright exploits this to make some of the most riveting and breathtaking sequences I’ve seen in a movie. You could argue that this movie IS a musical because of how important the tunes are to this movie, and this is what piqued my interest initially.
Like pretty much everyone even mildly interesting, music has played a giant role in my life. Many may not know this about me (its something I don’t talk about much anymore) but I actually used to be a dancer on a collegiate team that participated in competitions. I wasn’t the most technically gifted, in fact I had to learn most things multiple times before it sank, but my favorite part of dancing was really listening to music and finding things I wouldn’t have heard normally, like a little off-beat, bass, or an instrument that’s tucked away in the back. Dancing forever changed the way I listened to music, and that hasn’t changed regardless of me not continuing to practice. Because of this, I’ve got to say…from the first 10 minutes of “Baby Driver”, I was instantly hooked.
Edgar Wright unleashed a volley of originality and creativity with the incorporation of the soundtrack into his direction here. So many times I found myself tapping my foot along with what I was hearing and seeing, only to have Wright catch me off guard with a subtle sound effect from a prop used by a character (gun, car door, etc.). Seriously, these sequences are visually stunning and are literally (and figuratively) music to your ears that leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction and wonderment.
Initially I was a little worried about Elgort being able to carry his own movie alongside actors like Spacey and Foxx, but I definitely ate my words because Elgort really sends a message with this introverted, confident, and empathetic character he plays. If I’m remembering correctly, Baby doesn’t even have much dialogue compared to the other characters, but he’s a surprisingly real character. To go deeper in to the acting part of it, particularly with Spacey, Foxx, and Hamm…pay attention to the first time you see their characters and the last, because Wright does some flips on us if you see things from Baby’s perspective (tough to explain without spoilers), which shouldn’t be difficult considering that the movie really explores what this kid is going through and the things he notices. Lily James is also in this movie as Debora, Baby’s eventual love interest…and despite being an English actress, she really made me believe she was an innocent, sweet southern girl for the entire movie.
Even with how much I’m gushing over this movie so far, I do NOT think it’s perfect. Edgar Wright is often criticized for being “style over substance”, obviously not as much as someone like Snyder, but it still is something you hear about him. Because his style is so unique and is sure to make people smile, I don’t exactly mind…but if you’ve been reading Soggz-Blogs for a while now, you know how much I love characterization. Unfortunately, aside from the character of Baby, this movie lacks a bit in that department. It is there if you look, but often times it is rushed or glossed over to make the film more compact or use the time for the admittedly awesome action…which aren’t necessarily bad things, but it did make me feel “cut-off” in a sense. The best example I can think of is actually the character of Debora: Wright spends the time to make this blossoming love between Baby and Debora so important…that at some point you ask “Why exactly is she so quick to rush to Baby’s side, even when it poses a threat to her?”. Even with the criminal characters…at the end of the day I refer to them as “Jon Hamm” or “Jamie Foxx” rather than how I refer to Elgort as “Baby”. I guess that’s the biggest difference…the characterization for Baby was really good, but everyone else seemed to be there or be the way they are because “reasons”. Additionally, the ending of the movie felt very rushed and abrupt. It wasn’t like “Mass Effect 3” levels of unsatisfying, but it still was confusing enough for me to mention it. Despite this, I think the actors themselves and how entertaining they all are make up a little bit for the missing characterization I was looking for and still made “Baby Driver” an awesome experience for me.
This is in my top 3 movies of the year so far, along with “Get Out” and “Logan”. Go see this movie, everyone. “Baby Driver” gets a 9/10.
I had a lot of people telling me to see this one, and I don’t regret it at all. If you have something coming out this summer that you’d like me to review, let me know!