Review: ‘Baby Driver’
YouTube: Baby Driver Trailer #1 (2017) | Movieclips Trailers
Edgar Wright’s been a tad quiet, hasn’t he? Due to the hugely disappointing parting of ways between Marvel and Wright over his proposed Ant-Man script, the man with an almost flawless CV has been absent for far too long. Baby Driver is a welcome return for the man behind the Cornetto trilogy. Not a return to form, I should clarify, as that was never in doubt.
(Worth noting two things while Ant-Man is being mentioned: Firstly, I quite enjoyed Ant-Man, but have no doubt that Wright’s script and direction would have been far superior to the end product we were served up. Secondly, Edgar Wright was interviewed by Mike Ryan for Uproxx a short while ago and was very honest about how Baby Driver came about and how Ant-Man impacted it. Definitely worth a read.)
So if you’re not already aware (where have you been?), Baby Driver stars Baby (not his real name) (played by Ansel Elgort), who owes a debt to Doc (not his real name) (played by Kevin Spacey). Baby is a very talented driver and uses the music constantly playing through his headphones (required to drown out his tinnitus) to help him drive. Coincidentally, Doc requires a getaway driver for all his illegal activity, so Baby is slowly but surely paying off his debt in the way of getaway driving.
There’s a big old ensemble cast to familiarise yourself with here. Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, and Lily James all feature alongside Spacey and Elgort, and all perform superbly (although Bernthal doesn’t feature heavily).
In fact, the use of the ensemble is what worked so well for me. I’ll get to the other overwhelming successes shortly, but I loved the ensemble. In a film like this, it’s incredibly easy for the ensemble cast, famous actors or not, to just become the gang. You know how in the Fast & Furious films, they have a really strong cast but The Rock and Vin Diesel are the only two that you really remember? The Rock, Vin Diesel, and the gang. And how the Mission: Impossible films have lots of big names, but realistically it’s always been Tom Cruise and the gang?
But that is so not the case in Baby Driver. Each individual character has an impact on the progress of the film, and each individual character has moments in which they shine, twists in which they are involved, and endings of which they are worthy.
Unfortunately, to say I am not an Ansel Elgort fan is rather an understatement. I tried to stop this affecting my enjoyment of the film, and in the second half it was easier to do so (there’s more action and less character development). However, there is so much ‘look at Baby being charismatic’ in the first half, I found myself rolling my eyes so far back into my skull they did a full 360.
This really is the only negative I can put my finger on, though. It isn’t the perfect film, but as so many people have said before me, it’s a film that succeeds in being so much fun that one forgets its downfalls. And by the time it gets into its second-half-rhythm, wow, it’s good.
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It absolutely never feels like style over substance, which was a concern I had beforehand. It would have been so easy for a film predominantly about car chases to prioritise style, especially when the concept (timing the car chases to the soundtrack) is one that so heavily depends on the style succeeding. I guess I should never doubt a writer/director so trustworthy as Edgar Wright in the future. Not only is the style a resounding success, but the substance makes the film such a joy.
The ending is thoughtful and unexpectedly ambiguous and delivers a very satisfactory finish for each character.
Baby Driver is a real treat. My own prejudices towards Ansel Elgort aside, it’s near perfect, and it’s certainly the best musical-car-chase-action-crime film I’ve seen in a long time.
YouTube: Jamie Foxx Has Has Everyone in Stitches Talking About ‘Baby Driver’ | This Morning