Baby Driver. A Review
I can't exactly remember when I first saw Quenten Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, but I credit that movie for being where my true love for the medium began. As I grew up and made an effort to experience lots of different types of movies and directors Pulp Fiction always stood tall at the top of the mountain of my favorite movies. I never thought I would like any movie as much as that one, that is until I saw a movie called Hot Fuzz. Directed by Edgar Wright, Hot Fuzz was the most perfect movie I had ever seen, and began my obsession with the man behind the camera. I have waited a long time for Baby Driver to be released and now that day has finally come and gone and I am here to tell you that Baby Driver is everything we wished it could be.
The reason I think Edgar Wright is the best director in the world right now (and you should too) is his ability to use everything in his arsenal and boy does he in Baby Driver. If you have seen a Wright movie before you know about his obsession with sound effects and using them to both get laughs and bolster an emotional moment. The metallic ring that comes after Baby throws a key off a bridge or the perfectly timed ding to signal that it is time for Griff to exit the elevator and the movie are normal for Wright but are used to his greatest effect. Anyone involved in the sound department for this movie should be very proud, from the mixers to the editors.
Another Wright staple is the quick edits to make things.....well......look cool. When Baby has to get a move on and the camera quickly cuts between the clutch, the gear shift, the gas pedal and the speedometer it make you want to exit your fucking seat at 99 miles an hour. You feel like you are behind the wheel of that Subaru WRX and I dare anyone who sees this movie not to put shades on and whip their Honda Civic out of the parking lot with visions of Baby Driver dancing in their head.
Nothing goes with driving quite like that one right song. The one that makes you hold push the gas pedal a little longer and grip the wheel a little harder. For reference Anger Room by Hero Jr. has become my "go fast anthem" recently, if you like guitars and guys that sound like The Black Crows check them out. Baby Driver embraces this idea and revolves almost an entire movie around it. The action flows with the songs like you have never heard and seen before. I feel confident in saying that Baby Driver is the movie that uses music in coordination with action better than any other. Between the urge to push an invisible gas pedal and the constant foot taping brought on by the killer soundtrack your ankle will be sore by the end of this movie.
While Edgar Wright has a writing credit on every movie he has directed, this is the first of his major releases where he is the sole credited writer. While not as slick and stylish as Tarantino, Wright is almost as cool and in my opinion puts more forethought into his writing. There are little bits of dialogue that foreshadow key events that you will not even realise until you leave the theater or even on your second or third viewing. He also expertly fleshes out the 6-7 characters in minimal time with minimal effort. The movie seems to zoom from a car chase into a power slide of character development and then shifts right back into the action.
To make another Tarantino comparison, Wright is the type of director who actors go out of their way to work with. John Hamm is like the coolest dude on the planet and that makes it no surprise that he has been involved in Baby Driver since the first table read. Kevin Spacey is so spot on for this role its not even worth talking about because it would ruin the mystique of how perfect it is. Jamie Foxx is just so damn good in everything that his performance seems to be his normal but lets be real, his normal is way higher than most. To have these characters so realized without spending wasted time on going over each of their backstories is impressive and adds to the mystique of the movie.
Now on to the kids, the babys if you will. Ansel Elgort was one of the concerns going into Baby Driver. I had never seen him in anything before and from his IMDb page I was not impressed. Elgort has totally bought in and gives us one of the coolest characters in a movie in a long time. Imagine Ryan Gosling in Drive if he actually was someone you wanted to be like. The key for the character is when he turns from Baby Driver to Man Driver and Elgort absolutely knocks it out of the park. Lilly James is on her way to becoming a star, I'm sure she will break some hearts after this movie, but her subtle character quirks are just as important here as her good looks. While Elgort gets much more screen time, both Baby and Deborah push a heart into a movie that would otherwise be pretty downtrodden.
Another thing that I love about Edgar Wright is his ability to grow from movie to movie. After Scott Pilgrim (In my opinion the best comic book movie ever.) had a less than stellar performance at the box office and his early departure from Ant-Man Wright learned to be more....accessible. Wright's earlier style served to impress and gain interest from people who really liked movies and British humor. Baby Driver keeps the passion of the film making while being more welcoming to a wider audience.
Usually when a director aims to please a wide audience we get 5 Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Wright is able to step his game up and challenge himself to leave a comfort zone that he is incredibly good in and pivot his style to fit a blockbuster format. Dan Harmon once said that he did not like when people referenced Community episodes as "spoofs" of pop culture and would rather look at them as homages. I feel that Edgar Wright gets the same treatment, and thus Baby Driver feels less like a spoof and more like an homage to movies like The Driver, Reservoir Dogs and Bonnie and Clyde.
By now I'm sure I am not the first person you have heard from that this movie is amazing but this movie is sort of a conformation. Not that Edgar Wright can make amazing movies, we always knew he could do that, but a conformation that people will still go out to support and enjoy truly great cinema. Like Get Out earlier this year, Baby Driver shows us that movies made from passion and the need to tell a story are almost always better than those that are made to sell tickets. But this is the beauty of Baby Driver, it is not only a project that Wright has had in his head for years, about 20 to be exact but one that serves to entertain, and not just the movie nerds club. This is where Wright separates himself from Tarantino. Quentin makes movies for himself and if you like it then good, Edgar Wright makes movies to show you why he loves movies so much.
I really do not have a bad thing to say about this movie. My bias has been noted but to be honest I am probably harder on the movie than most people and while there are some things to pick at they are not worth wasting time on them here. The run time falls in perfectly at just over an hour and 50 minutes. The characters are cool and likeable, until they are not anymore and the themes of the movie are served well. Baby Driver has pushed Logan and Get Out off the road for my pick of the best movie of the year so far and I think it may stay that way. While Hot Fuzz still holds the title for my favorite Edgar Wright film I can't wait to get Baby Driver on Blu Ray and watch it again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again.