An enjoyable, original heist movie, although with some bumps in the road.
A young, unassuming heist getaway driver wants out of the business of crime after falling for a waitress, but his boss and fellow criminals who need his ace driving skills won’t let him go so easily.
Baby Driver is the brainchild of writer/director Edgar Wright, who is well known for such visually stylish and cunningly clever films such as Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, so one can expect a lot of style and incredibly quick but clever editing. You certainly get that in spades with his new film!
Baby Driver starts out initially very strong; straight into what the trailer promises with the bizarrely named Baby providing the getaway driving for a bank robbery. We not only get a flashy, perfectly executed car chase but also a quirky mix-tape soundtrack of very familiar pop music from the last several decades with Ansel Elgort, playing Baby, singing to the music. This follows onto a cool segment where Baby is walking, listening to music, and various words of the song are written in the set dressing behind him, such as graffiti or shop signs.
The film is loaded with excellent music cues, sound mixing and editing; such as sounds within action sequences timing with the song Baby is listening to, from car impacts to bullet ricochet. You can tell that this is an Edgar Wright movie, it is incredibly well made and slickly put together. The film’s pacing is revolving around three heists that Baby is involved with, as well as his blossoming relationship with Debora (Lily James), and for the most part it is effective and escalates well.
But, perhaps critical hype set expectations too high, but the performances (and even at times the screenplay) weren’t incredible. The film stalls midway through, almost exactly when Baby and Debora hook up. The film is a prime example of “Chekhov’s Gun”; there are so many moments of foreshadowing it gets a little too comical. Moments between the two romantic leads are uninspired and quite drab in chemistry (hard to imagine Wright wrote this film at times) mostly because Baby had just found himself “out” of the crime circle. Yes. Of course he is… It is a moment the audience finds itself tapping its collective feet, waiting for more. Not what you want when your film is ultimately about young love. The chemistry fell completely flat.
Kevin Spacey is playing most of the characters he plays nowadays (though it is nice to see him in something good!) Jamie Foxx is one dimensional, and Jon Bernthal barely features at all (although he walks away with one of the best lines!) That’s not to say there isn’t good lines dotted around, but I honestly didn’t care for very many of the characters. Except for Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez as two of the criminals, they have a great “modernisation of Bonnie and Clyde” vibe going on. I could watch a spin off film just about them!
Also all of Ansel Elgort’s scenes with CJ Jones are great. There’s tonnes of chemistry. How that could be achieved yet the central romance of the movie missed so heavily is a mystery.
This is a matter of style over substance, which is probably what you can expect from an Edgar Wright passion project. Baby Driver is a fun black comedy that tonally gets lost a little and lacks weight in its characters (why does Baby grow up into an ace car driver when he has PTSD flashbacks about a car accident?) but it is a very well made, very unique movie.
It isn’t the groundbreaking movie critics are claiming it to be, but it is an enjoyable distraction with incredible editing and an awesome, toe-tapping soundtrack.