Baby Driver (2017) Review

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Director: Edgar Wright

Writer: Edgar Wright

Actors: Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Lily James, Kevin Spacey

 

With Edgar Wright flopping his first attempt at American Cinema with Scott Pilgrim, everyone is wondering whether Wright should continue trying to enter this world or go back to what he is known for. Well I am happy to say that it seems like Baby Driver will be a success both in the box office and with public opinion. This summer film is one that you actually do not want to miss and here is why.

I would like to start with what I consider to be this movies greatest feature, which is the music along with the editing of the film. Edgar Wright in my opinion was able to achieve something that I have been wanting for a long time to see in modern action films, which is the seamless integration of music with the action. What Edgar Wright managed to do with Baby Driver is have a reason for having the music the way it was. He integrated the aspect of the music into the story and made it relevant for both the universe of the movie and to the audience at home. A great example of this is when video games integrate mechanics into the actual story of the game. These approaches say that there doesn't need to be a disconnect between what is shown to the viewer and what is happening in the world of the characters. By allowing Baby to have this condition where he needs to listen to music, Edgar Wright was able to use that to help increase and heighten the overall experience of the film. We saw films like Guardians of the Galaxy, and to a lesser extent Suicide Squad, try to do something similar. However, none come close to the level that was achieved in Baby Driver. What makes it really special, is not only the integration of music in the actual story, but how it was utilized with the editing and action of the film. Time and time again we see Wright's interesting take on editing when it comes to his films. Abrupt cuts along with interesting camera work have always been a staple in his work and it has been developing ever since. What I see from Baby Driver is the culmination of his style of editing and camera. With the integration of music into the story he is able to more freely go for the interesting and dynamic way of editing and shooting his films. The way that the guns time perfectly with the beats of the music was one of the best things I've seen in a modern action movie since Mad Max: Fury Road. It works so well, and the selection of music that Wright chooses for those scenes fit so well and make the fighting and action even more interesting. Not only do the guns flow with the music, but even just walking down the street, the steps and the swagger that Baby has all flow beautifully with the music. Also, as a final point, the music is not the only sound aspect I enjoyed. What I really enjoyed about the film is the way the driving felt, and it had a lot to do with the sound quality. When Baby brakes and turns a very strong turn you could feel the impact of the car turning. Every brake and every turn is heard and felt by all the viewers and it makes the film much more enjoyable. A film like Fast and Furious for example, although focused on driving, does not come close to offering such a satisfying driving feel that Baby Driver offers. All in all, the film is a spectacle for the ears in terms of both music and audio quality. The way they both flow seamlessly with the editing makes the film a spectacle for the eyes as well, which enhances the usual modern action scenes we see much of nowadays.

Now I want to talk about the characters of the film along with the acting. Let us start with the main character of the film, Baby, played by Ansel Elgort. I haven't really seen Elgort in another film other than the awful Divergent, but other than that, I never got to see what he is capable of. I am absolutely thrilled to say that he nailed his role as Baby. He actually really surprised me with his range and the various emotions that he was able to effectively convey to the audience. Whether it be singing along to music or shooting people in the face, Elgort manages to give the audience a great performance that made us believe he was this strange character. Furthermore, I want to talk about the character of Baby. Baby is the type of character where the audience can easily gravitate towards. From the first scene there is an instant connection when Kevin Spacey's character takes away the money and hands him one stack. We later learn how he is forced to work for Doc and that this is not the life he wishes for, even though he is extremely good at it. This gives the audience enough sympathy to connect with the character, and it is that connection that allows the viewers to follow him to the bitter end. Edgar Wright was also able to give us a hint at Baby's past and how it affected what he is currently doing. However, one of my biggest gripes with the film is the lack of backstory we get for Baby. True we got to know about the car crash, and his parents rough relationship, but since they were given in bite sized pieces it did not have much of an impact when it comes to understanding the character. I wanted to know more about why he started driving after the car crash, how he got good, and what he feels about all of this. The answers to these questions would have been easy to put in the film and would have helped a lot in the connection that the audience has with the character of Baby in my opinion. Moving along to the side characters, I feel like Wright nailed it out of the park with his choices. Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, and even Lily James all played their roles perfectly. Kevin Spacey, acting as this somewhat father figure to Baby while still showing that he is not to be messed with was brilliant. However, the way he switched so quickly at the end from "I don't want anything to do with you" to "I'm going to risk my life for you" felt out of character and forced in my opinion. Nevertheless, Spacey managed to do brilliantly play his role as the big bad mobster and the film would not have been the same without him. Jamie Foxx as well, was well.... Jamie Foxx. This is the type of role that he is meant to play when it comes to these type of films. His comedic timing is on point and it does not feel forced at all. He manages to find a great balance between a menacing villain and a lighthearted jokester, that again, fits the world of the film perfectly. Finally, Jon Hamm, Lily James, and even Eiza Gonzalez played their roles well and I have nothing negative to talk about their characters. All in all, Edgar Wright managed to create a memorable cast of characters with great picks for their respective actors. They definitely play a key role in the enjoyment of the film.

Moving along I want to discuss the story and the structure of the film. At face value, the film may seem like any other generic Hollywood heist film. However, with the incredible editing, soundtrack, and cast of characters, the film was able to go from a seemingly regular heist film to a memorable modern action film. That is not to say that the story is weak. However, it is not the strongest aspect of the film and it is not what I remembered when I exited the theater. What I do want to talk about was the romance of the film. We usually see nowadays, a lot of modern action films where a romantic plot line is shoved in forcefully and it has no actual cohesion with the rest of the story. With Baby Driver however, I really enjoyed the romantic plot line. The romance felt genuine. It did not feel forced at all and it managed to play a key role in both the story and the development of the character of Baby. Furthermore, the romance really felt natural. We really did feel like this is how Baby and Debora felt as we were watching the film. In the laundromat scene especially. Wright's continuous camera shot along with the natural flirtatious lines given out by each character really allowed the audience to quickly connect to this relationship, which is not something you see happen a lot in modern day blockbusters. Nevertheless, the story although not the strongest aspect of the film, still managed to perfectly frame Wright's vision of how Baby was able to tackle the situations presented. 

Finally I want to talk a bit about something that really bothered me about the film. Overall I really enjoyed this film as can be seen from the points I made above. What I also enjoyed was how Wright was able to challenge the generic modern day action tropes and elevate them so that they are fresh once again. Whether it be by the seamless integration of the music or the smart editing, Wright was able to show us that this genre of film is not dead and it can be innovated on. However, although Wright was able to transcend Hollywood tropes for most of the film, I feel like he really missed the mark when it comes to the final confrontation. Especially against Jon Hamm's character. That whole sequence in the parking lot at the end really disappointed me. It seems like all of the creativity just went out of the window and we went back to generic Hollywood action. The way that Jon Hamm miraculously survives every time the audience think it is over. The over the top comments made by Hamm and Elgort. All of these put a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as the movie was coming to an end. I just really wished that Wright kept his creativity to the end of the film. Nevertheless, the ending was not enough to make me dislike the film, I still thoroughly enjoyed the film. 

To conclude, I believe that Baby Driver is the culmination of all that Edgar Wright has been doing so far as a creator. The editing, characters, music, and story all play beautifully into one another and the film never misses a beat. I still do feel like there is more to be needed in terms of Baby's backstory and origins since I do feel like the character is really interesting and it would have allowed the audience to connect more with him. Furthermore, as I explained, Wright managed to turn modern action into something fresh and exciting again. However, he unfortunately missed the mark with the final confrontation and fell back into the horrible pit of generic Hollywood tropes. Nevertheless, with all that being said the film is really enjoyable and I would recommend anyone to go see it. It is the type of film that can be enjoyed by both film enthusiasts and the general public alike. I hope Edgar Wright is able to use the success of Baby Driver and push himself further to another interesting and exciting project. 

8/10