Baby Driver Movie Review
Baby Driver Movie Review Metadata
When I started Film Obsession, my goal was to offer readers a break from technical movie reviews. I wanted to talk about how the movie made me feel; did I walk away excited or did I leave shaking my head. We’ve had varying degrees of success adhering to that philosophy, but today that’s my only goal in introducing Edgar Wright’s magnum opus, Baby Driver.
To call Wright’s action film anything but exhilarating is an absolute departure from reality.
It stars Ansel Elgort, an ever-growing name in Hollywood. He plays Baby, a getaway driver for hire. He’s good, real good. From the moment the theater’s projector bulb starts glowing behind you, Baby grinds asphalt into Gerber. Which is to say he’s fast, but he’s also young.
Baby loves music. Imagine for a moment a heist in progress across the street, Baby’s earbuds firmly embedded, hands and head bobbing to the beat, steering wheel and wiper blades becoming instruments, the audience jamming along, and then suddenly, wheels screech and heads jerk as Baby launches into getaway mode. His accomplices pile into the empty seats and escape the lawmen in pursuit. It’s an adrenaline-pumping blast. The movie started only ten minutes ago.
You can’t help but like this kid Ansel. If ever anyone owned a part, this is it. Ansel is a DJ in his spare time, having released two records in the last 3 years and amassing tens of thousands of Soundcloud followers. He has an immense love for musical theater and that emotion shines through as he “mickey mouses” through the streets of Atlanta, matching beats and lyrics to his meticulously choreographed waltz.
As for those accomplices we talked about, they’re all part of Doc’s (Kevin Spacey) revolving band of bank robbers, played by Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Jamie Foxx and Jon Bernthal. Doc however, is the brains of the operation, barely lifting anything more than an inch of chalk to scribble the plans of an expertly designed heist. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was President Underwood scheming and spitting orders at his subordinates.
The team, however, is unimpressed with their young chauffeur. Griff (Bernthal) and Bats (Foxx), in particular, can’t seem to stand Baby’s muted demeanor when amongst thieves and often question his loyalty. But Doc and Baby have a mutual understanding, perhaps adding to that animosity. There is, however, reason for Baby’s limited interaction. Baby is partially deaf because of a childhood accident that also killed his parents. The earbuds and music drown out the permanent ringing in his head.
As an orphan, Baby was taken in by Joe (CJ Jones), a (real-life) Deaf man who exudes more emotion than most hearing actors. Joe wants Baby to quit, but Baby has his reasons. Apparently someone can put Baby in a corner…sorry, I couldn’t resist. His dilemma is an interesting contradiction for a young man so skilled in escape.
It isn’t until he meets Deborah (Lily James) does he find the incentive to move forward in life. Until now, Baby’s greatest treasures were old iPods and interactions he would capture with an old voice recorder and set against fresh beats, and of course, an old mixtape his mother made for him. Music, as it is for Baby, is a defining characteristic of many of Wright’s musings. Having the advantage of an early score approval, the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World director was able to precisely choreograph every element of his new film, from car chases to blocking, from costume design to expression. Hip-hop, soul, even full-on metal elements grace the soundtrack, a playlist I intend to replicate on my own iPod.
Deborah and Baby are an adorable couple. She has a subtle twang in her voice that instantly captures your attention, and a carefree soul that inspires Baby to do more than just drive getaway cars for Doc’s increasingly reckless crew. When Deborah and Joe become targets, Baby is thrust into a final escape of his own, the one that has always eluded him since Doc began controlling his destiny. That third act is as intense as anything you’ll see in an action film today.
Baby Driver is a concert. The actors, the soundtrack, the set pieces are all parts of an orchestra, and Wright is on the podium conducting. But revealing out of stage left, is this cool cat in sunglasses. He confidently struts across the stage to an empty drum kit, he sits and unveils his drumsticks. He is Ansel Elgort and he’s Wright’s newest, most exciting player. He owns this film in the same manner Michael Cera made Scott Pilgrim his. I’m excited to see what’s next for him, now that the Divergent mess is wrapping up.
If I was a betting man, I’d say Baby Driver wins the SXSW Audience Award this year. It’s that good. But let me bring things back to the initial discussion of why I started this movie blog. I left the Paramount Theater with a big smile and a little extra pep in my step. I might have even been skipping a tiny bit as I worked my way through Austin’s famed 6th Street and back to my car. I felt great about it. This is why I love movies.