Baby Driver Review
I went into Baby Driver knowing basically nothing. I’d not seen trailers or anything, and was only really aware of the key cast. The one thing I was aware of was the hype, and how it was supposed to be very good - It was. It had everything - fun, compassion, love, laughs, violence, and non-stop action.
The film starts with our main man, “Baby”, played by Ansel Elgort, dropping off the heist crew outside a bank. As the driver, his job is to wait for the crew and get them the hell outta there when the job is done. We’ve all seen this before. It gets instantly interesting, however, for two reasons. Firstly, the soundtrack is instantly good fun. Baby hits play on his iPod and the soundtrack to the first escape begins - “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. While Baby waits for the crew, he drums on the steering wheel, plays air-violin, and mimes the opening ‘HEYYY’s in perfect time, and it’s all very fun to see, instantly setting a comical tone.
Secondly, the chases. Once the crew are done, they make their escape, all to the evolution of the record. It’s magnificent to watch; the chase action is gripping and even absurd, as some of the moves Baby is pulling off behind the wheel just defy logic and look the ultimate thrill. Baby evades everything from a plethora of police cruisers to spike strips, even using the police’s own gear against them. It’s farfetched, it’s ridiculous, and it’s so much fun.
The film does calm down at the right times, and we go on to learn more of our main man’s story. He cares for his foster father, Joseph, by earning a slice from the jobs he participates in. He has a foster father because his parents died in a car accident when he was younger. This was also the same accident that gave him tinnitus, a constant hum in his ears, and this is how the soundtrack is so prevalent - he has numerous iPods and always has a pair of headphones in to drown out the hum. So we are essentially listening to the music with him, seeing the scenes how he would. We also discover that his cut, whilst the same as the other crew members’, is physically smaller, as he owes the boss, Kevin Spacey’s “Doc”, a hefty chunk from past misdemeanours. So he is an unwilling member of Doc’s crew, and just wants out.
The contrast to the crime and violence comes in the form of Debora, played by Lily James. She works in a diner that Baby likes to frequent, as his late, much-missed mother worked there, and he clings to that memory, along with a tape recording of her singing, with the utmost love. The romance between the two is the perfect tonic to the other side of Baby’s life. She talks of getting away from her mundane life and just driving without a plan, and it’s something Baby absolutely relates to, albeit for largely different reasons. The two share a love and knowledge of music, and the dynamic between the two actors here should be highly commended, as they really make it clear their characters are instantly smitten.
There’s great performances throughout, most notably from Jamie Foxx and John Hamm. Foxx’s “Bats”, like the film, has multiple characteristics. He’s funny, he’s mad, he’s wretched, and he brings them all in fairly equal measure. Hamm’s “Buddy” initially seems an ally and defendant of Baby’s, but when the chips are down and things go south, their relationship changes for the worse. Watch out for a snippet towards the end, where Buddy is firing his gun to the exact beat of Focus’ “Hocus Pocus” - another lovely little detail.
Edgar Wright has delivered a masterpiece here. How incredibly tight the car chase scenes are is highly impressive and every time Baby jumps into a vehicle, it’s edge-of-your-seat stuff. The way he has impeccably intertwined the soundtrack to every specific of the film, as well as written in the tinnitus condition as a clever reason to have the film slathered as such, is excellent. He has essentially given us a heist-musical, and it was a sheer joy to watch.
If you haven’t seen Baby Driver yet, rev your way to the cinema and get on with it! If you have, let us know what you thought!
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