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Edgar Wright is one of my favorite filmmakers working today. He gave us the Cornetto trilogy which might be the best trio of comedies of all time. Shaun of the Dead showed us Edgar Wright’s core filmmaking tactics and puffed a fresh breath into the comedy genre by giving his film an obvious style, pattern, and brain. Hot Fuzz took the buddy cop movie to the next level giving us a hilarious mix of entertainment, chemistry, and suspense. The final film in the trilogy, The World’s End, brought back Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to give us great characters and one of the easiest movies to watch and rewatch of the decade. And did I mention that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World came between Hot Fuzz and The World’s End and quickly became a classic due to Edgar Wright reaching his stylistic peak? He hit four home runs prior to Baby Driver which made this one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Without further ado, let’s get going with the review!
Baby Driver is directed by Edgar Wright and stars Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza González, and Jon Bernthal. Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, may love music, take care or his deaf foster-father, and want to give his new girlfriend everything she deserves, but he has fallen onto the wrong path and now works for a crime boss who plans heists. He’s the best getaway driver in the business, and despite finishing enough jobs to even up with his boss, he is forced to continue living a life of crime simply because he’s too good to quit. With one more job that violates all rules and regulations for every party involved, can he finish up to escape his dangerous life and move across the country to start anew?
First off, Edgar Wright’s style, attitude, and talent is dripping off the screen. Wright is such a unique filmmaker that I want and expect to see his touch on his movies. Baby Driver never fails to disappoint in that aspect. It’s so fast-paced, quirky, and character driven with a heart and a brain. I loved how Wright brought that perfect editing and creative camerawork to the action scenes in this film. This movie makes me think that Edgar Wright’s dream was to direct a film centered on driving because the scenes surrounding Baby’s driving are incredibly visceral, entertaining, and informing, and they might have given me the most fun I’ve had in theaters in 2017. Everything is definitely mapped out, and there are a few long takes with choreography and camerawork that could only belong to Wright given the tone carried by the scenes. What may have impressed me the most was the timing. The way Wright matched his direction, editing, and shot composition with his choreography and sound design blew me away. A large portion of Baby Driver is centered around music, and all of Edgar Wright’s choices in music fell into place with what we were seeing on-screen. The music seemed to be the defining factor of the film whether it meant a tonal shift, character development, or plot progression. I could feel the movie move side to side and up and down with the music with harmony and flow, and it was filtered through Baby. On top of the fact that Ansel Elgort gave a magnificent performance, Baby Driver uses perspective to give so much depth to Baby. The story is told in a way that shows how Baby reacts to certain situations, and it lends so much to the character while also leaving some of the supporting characters slightly mysterious. For example, there are multiple scenes where one of Baby’s earbuds is removed. If the left one is removed, the only speakers in the theater playing the music will be on the right and vice versa. We almost exclusively know what Baby does, and leaving dramatic irony out of the story propelled our main character. Though we see it from Baby’s perspective and see him fully fleshed out, the performances from each of the other cast members are great. Jon Hamm is one of my favorites in the business just because of how charismatic and cool he is, and he brought that to his character. Hamm’s character in Baby Driver is the kind of guy who all guys like to pretend we are. We like to pretend that we’re tough, big, and dangerous. I’d actually believe that this character is exactly what he carries himself as, and Hamm’s performance is the main reason. I also loved Jamie Foxx. He’s already one of the most commanding screen presences in the game, but this character is terrifying, and he stole every scene he appears in through a bit of fear, unease, and surprise. Kevin Spacey was also fantastic. He and Elgort have an odd relationship, but it works on-screen, and I bought into this relationship where Baby learns everything he knows from Spacey’s character.
I loved Baby Driver, but I do have a couple of issues with it. The music does fit the story, tone, and pace well, but there are moments where it feels like the film is shaped around the music as compared to the music being shaped around the film. The music should be a compliment to the substance on the screen as compared to the substance being a compliment to the music. If you’ve ever watched a music video, the visuals serve the purpose of the lyrics and the artist, and viewers will watch a music video for the music. Points in Baby Driver feel like a music video, and it can get tiring through Wright’s relentlessness. My only other issue is something that I typically find to be a strength with Wright. I think that the pacing is slightly off. The first and third act are definitely much more enthralling than the second act. Most of the development happens in the first and third acts, and we see the characters at their breaking points. There’s also a bit of time between the film’s hook the next time we see a similar scene, so it can get bit off track. Another pacing issue I found was some very speedy development. Baby and his new girlfriend move very fast, and after a single date and maybe four conversations, they begin to make big life decisions without thought.
Overall, Baby Driver is definitely one of the best and most entertaining films of the year. I was having a blast watching this movie, and Edgar Wright’s style is in the spotlight. Everything looks and sounds amazing, and the timing, choreography, and camerawork will probably go unmatched this year. The music matches and carries the movie through tone, character development, and plot development, and the audience can feel the rhythm of the movie through the music. The performances are brilliant and give the characters life, layers, and humanity. With the music playing such a vital role in the film, sometimes it does overtake the plot and come on a bit strong, and there are some slight pacing issues, but Edgar Wright once again delivers an exciting, funny, and thoughtful film that showed a brand new side to his filmmaking expertise. I’m going to give Baby Driver an 8.5/10!
Will you be checking out Baby Driver? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!