6/28/2017

Khalil’s Take: ‘Baby Driver:’ The Perfect Blend of Music, Cars, and Guns!


Edgar Wright finally got to make his own superhero movie without the constraints of oversight, and boy is it great!

Wright is an interesting filmmaker, known for his comedic and visually arresting films including such now cult classic films like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and The World's End.  Each of these films he put his own signature flair on, each of the films was not made in the States, and each film helped cement him as a great and not cultish director.  Before his most recent film, he was attached to direct Marvel’s Ant-Man, but left over “creative difference.”  There’s no doubt that Ant-Man is an Edgar Wright movie, the only thing missing from it is him physically directing it.  So when his next project was going to be a mainstream Hollywood film, some fans might have grumbled and thought the mostly indie director was selling out.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Baby Driver, is like nothing you have ever seen.  The film is basically what would happen if you placed a non-super agent/non-superhero/non-unstoppable Fast and Furious movie, mixed it with a little Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack-wise, and threw in a little Martin Scorsese old school Organized Crime movies in an Edgar Wright blender.  The film has a dynamic and standout cast, incredibly cool car sequences (that used as many practical effects as possible), a believable romance, and above all else, a killer soundtrack.  It’s the perfect blend of perfection rolled into a movie.


The film follows the titular character Baby (Ansel Elgort) who after a childhood accident has a constant hearing problem as his ears constantly ring in his head.  To drown out the endless annoyance, he pops in his iPod and listens to his tunes.  Oh, and he’s one of the best getaway drivers in all of Atlanta.  After a run in with the wrong gangster (Kevin Spacey), he now works for him as his getaway driver for his bank heists all over the city, escorting his dysfunctional yet interesting crew (Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, and Eiza González) as they carry out various heists throughout the city.


Baby is great at what he does, but a few things in his life make him reconsider.  For one, he’s only in this to pay off a debt.  Another reason is because of the people in his life.  His adoptive father Joseph (CJ Jones) wants him to get a real job as they communicate solely in sign language as Joseph is deaf (great way of mainstreaming disabilities in the film as Baby has tinnitus and his adoptive father is deaf).  The second person he sees himself making a change for is Debora (Lily James), a waitress he meets at a diner and has an instant (and realistic) connection with.  However, the more you try to get out, the harder you get pulled back in,

So many things in this movie work flawlessly.  The biggest thing of Baby Driver is the soundtrack.  Although this and Guardians of the Galaxy are completely different genres, they both to a great job at incorporating timeless classic songs into the film, setting the tone and theme for countless scenes of the movie.  The opening number of the movie shows us just what type of movie we are going to get as we not only see Baby walking down the street jamming to music, but some very awesome cinematography as we see the lyrics to the song I the background as signs, graffiti, and restaurant menus.  That opening alone sets the tone for a fun, inventive, and great film that’s in store.


Ansel Elgort, who is primarily known for appearing in YA films like the Divergent films and The Fault in Our Stars really gets a chance to shine as Baby.  He plays confidence well, but not in a bragging way.  At the same time, he delivers a believable romance with Lily James’ Debora.  The two start off your usual flirting, which organically develops into a stronger relationship.  His interactions with Joseph is also touching as the two have a deep bond.  You don’t get to see the history of how this elderly deaf black man became a father to a young white kid, and you don’t need to as Elgort and CJ Jones have great nonverbal chemistry together.


In regards to the supporting cast, everyone brings their A-Game.  Kevin Spacey is Doc, the criminal mastermind who organizes the bank robberies across the city.  He’s ruthless.  Yet at the same time, he is also trying a father-type role for Baby, just in the criminal mastermind parental type of way.  Jon Hamm (why is he not yet a movie star?!?) also really shines in this movie as Buddy.  As the film progresses, you see his villainous side manifest tenfold and you start to wonder if he might have been a great Negan alternative to Jeffrey Dean Morgan on The Walking Dead.  Another one the bank robbers is Eiza González as Darling, Buddy’s girlfriend who he’s dangerously insane for.  Jon Bernthal is also a part of the crew as Griff, as he continues to play Shane from Walking Dead.  Rounding out the bank robbers in Jamie Foxx as Bats.  Foxx hams it up in typical Jamie Foxx fashion and has one of the best moments of the film as he goes trigger happy while jamming to the “Tequila” song.

Edgar Wright has completely knocked it out of the park in Baby Driver.  Not only does the soundtrack, and actors work, but the overall plot works.  The film has a surprisingly realistic ending that has been missing in countless heist films for quite some time.  While Wright has a massive cult following, this is his first “big time” Hollywood film and will probably go down as the sleeper hit of the summer.  The nearly flawless film truly shines from the first frame to the last.  It perfectly meshed music into the film, that it almost operates as a musical.  The soundtrack will surely soon be an ITunes/Spotify top seller as it has every genre of music: from the Beach Boys to Big Boi and Killer Mike (after all, it is set in Atlanta).  Hopefully, this movie will be a box-office draw.  However, expect this to have a long life afterward for home viewing.

Rating: 5/5