Love stories and heist films have been done so many times in Hollywood that they’ve become thoroughly played-out. However, Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) manages to take both well-worn concepts and deliver a stylish summer film worthy of an Oscar. Baby Driver is part musical, part love tale, and part crime caper which blends into 133 minutes of creative and fun film.
The plot of the movie is fairly simple. Baby( Ansel Elgort) is a young getaway driver, for a heist crew, with a severe case of Tinnitus, which he treats by listening to music all day, every day. Baby is eager to get out of the business and go legit. His boss, a mysterious mastermind known as ‘Doc’ ( Kevin Spacy), refuses to let him go. Baby meets a waitress by the name of Deborah( Lily James), and the two fall passionately in love. Through the course of the movie, Baby becomes even more adamant about getting away from Doc as his desire to run off into the sunset with Deborah intensifies. Doc, however, has heists planned that he needs Baby to carry out with a crew consisting of Bats ( Jamie Foxx), Darling (Elza Gonzalez), and Buddy ( Jon Hamm).
What drives Baby Driver and makes it so good, is the music. Wright deftly uses Baby’s obsession with music as means to introduce musical elements into the movie. Uniquely, the movie is from Baby’s perspective, which allows the audience to hear his music as he listens to it and reacts to it. This adds to the film in a variety of way (hear some of it in the official trailer below). Tunes such as B-A-B-Y by Carla Thomas, gives the film a distinctive 70’s and 80’s tone. In other stretches of the film, such as during moments of carnage and mayhem, intense rock n’roll songs, like Bellbottoms by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, cultivating a sense of panic. Then, during the love scenes, smooth songs like Carla’s B-A-B-Y, creates an atmosphere of immersion and intimacy. In a manner not previously seen in film (or not to this extent), Wright uses music to carry the audience from moment to moment, a la garden variety musicals. This cinematic technique works superbly with the overall narrative tone of Baby Driver and gives it its own cinematic DNA.
While the music makes the film, the writing is equally important. Baby Driver is one of the most well-written films of 2017. Dialogue, often the weak link in most movies, is one this movie’s key trait. Lines like “So what will it be: Behind the wheel or in a wheelchair?”, come across as creative and witty, and make the characters seem more true-to-nature and intriguing. Speaking of of “characters,” these actors extract the very best from Baby Driver‘s script. Each character has some feature or characteristic that makes him/her interesting and likable.
So, Baby Driver gets a 5 out of 5from me. It’s rare that a film gets such high marks from me, but this movie plainly deserves it. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t check out Baby Driver.
5 out of 5
(Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures.)