‘Baby Driver’ review: Visionary

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July 28, 2017 by Hope W.

Ansel Elgort (Baby), Jamie Foxx (Bats), Eiza González (Darling) and Jon Hamm (Buddy) in Baby Driver

Baby Driver is a film that I said I wasn’t sure I would watch in my “Movies Coming Soon” post at the beginning of this month. It stars a cast that I’m not wild over, especially Ansel Elgort, who looks kind of wimpy for a leading man (an impression I can’t get over from his cowardly role in the Divergent series), though I don’t mind the rest of the actors. This is a movie that is built around the soundtrack, and as I’m not such a huge music lover, that didn’t appeal to me either.

But one thing it got going for it is that it has fantastic reviews. And so when my friend wanted to watch a movie, and there wasn’t anything else I wanted to see, I picked Baby Driver.

*Minor spoilers ahead!*

It’s basically a heist film focusing on the getaway driver, a young kid called Baby (Ansel Elgort, who literally has a baby face), who wants out of this violent life. It’s got car chases, a love story, a menacing crime boss played by Kevin Spacey, batshit crazy crew members played by Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and Eiza González, and of course, lots of heists.

Jamie Foxx (Bats), Kevin Spacey (Doc), director Edgar Wright, Flea (Eddie) and Lanny Joon (JD) behind the scenes of Baby Driver

What differentiates it from every other crime film is that Baby is absolutely killer on the road as long as he has the right track playing. He constantly listens to music to drown out the “hum in [his] drum” (he’s partially deaf) that he got in a car crash where his parents died, and has many different iPods for different moods and playlists. He also likes to record people speaking and mix their words into songs. And of course, there’s the special brand of deadpan humour that is Edgar Wright’s signature. Witness Baby putting on sunglass after sunglass, which he whips out from his person nonchalantly after Griff (Jon Bernthal) snatches two of them away in order to try to rile him up, like a bully taking away a baby’s toy.

I can see why people like the film. I am absolutely in awe of Edgar Wright’s vision too. Almost every scene moves according to the beat of the music, so it must have been especially difficult to choreograph. Everybody must hit their marks at the correct time, and editing, sound editing and sound mixing must be on point. The featurette below explains it best.

My favourite scene is one near the beginning. It’s a long tracking shot of Baby walking down the street to get coffee, dancing to the rhythm of the song he’s listening to, and the background noise of people talking or playing instruments synchronise with the song, with the words of the song occasionally flashing up as graffiti as they’re sung. That was the scene that really got me on board the film and go: “Whoa”.

That scene isn’t available as a film clip, but the first six minutes of the opening bank robbery and car chase scene is available for you to get a glimpse of what I’m talking about when I say that the scene moves according to the beat of the music.

The colour scheme of the film is also deliberate. There’s a scene in a laundromat where Baby is having a date with Debbie (Lily James), and for unknown reasons, there are red, blue and yellow linens being washed all at the same time in one whole side of the room of washing machines. That made for a striking image.

Also, Baby’s foster dad is deaf, played by an actual deaf actor (CJ Jones), which is great for inclusiveness! I cannot recall watching any movies with disabled actors in a role before. I also really liked the actor. He brought a sweetness to the old man who cares about Baby and wants him to leave his violent life behind.

CJ Jones as Joseph and Ansel Elgort as Baby in Baby Driver

I don’t like how the movie devolved into a shootout and a chase scene in which Baby and Debbie try to escape from the vengeful claws of Buddy in the final act, because it became very messy, and more of a typical crime film then. But on the whole, Edgar Wright has brought a phenomenal vision to screen, and one well-worth watching.

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