It seems the last handful of movies I have seen were trashed critically; most of which I enjoyed. Now it seems the tables have turned I got to see the critical darling of the most recent SXSW: Baby Driver. There was a large amount of hype surrounding the movie which helps draw in crowds, but tends to set them up for failure in my opinion. When bars are set up so high it can be very hard to live up to the expectations. So cutting to the chase, how would I rate it?
8 “heist movie where you don’t see a single heist” out of 10.
FOR THE UNINITIATED
Baby (Ansel Elgort) works as a wheelman for Doc (Kevin Spacey) and to compensate for his tinnitus he is constantly listening to music. The first job we see him on is a bank robbery with Griff (Joe Bernthal), Buddy (Jon Hamm), and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez). It serves as the introduction to the wide selection of music, timing, and the fun the characters have within the movie … and the amazing car chases. Come to find out, Baby owes Doc a lot of money and is one job away from being paid up. Before the final job, we find out Baby goes to Bo’s Diner and becomes smitten with Debora (Lily James). The final job goes slightly awry after running into a vigilante and we also meet up with Bats (Jamie Foxx) who has a penchant for killing people who cross him. Baby completes his “final” job with no harm and gets to lead a simple life like his adopted father Joseph wants (CJ Jones).
He plans to eventually run off with Debora until he runs bank into Doc who informs him his days of driving are not over. The next job sees Baby, Bats, Buddy, and Darling robbing a post office assuming they can all get along …
While most people will praise the music, I think the best part is the fun the movie attempts to let the audience have. For example, take a look at the first scene when Baby is singing in the car. No other characters see he lip synching and aside from his back story, it serves no purpose than to entertain the audience. The way everything is timed out is beyond realistic since Baby was able to get serious, see the bank robbery, and then get back to the chorus of the song without missing a beat.
Edgar Wright has definitely been able to enfuse his style into Baby Driver. It may not be as flashy as Scott Pilgrim vs The World or been as comedic as any of the Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End), but you can tell every aspect of the movie is important and an homage to something that influenced him.
On the other hand, my one nitpick is the movie just didn’t seem to have a steady flow. There was not any significant downtime or dull moments, it just didn’t seem to be heading to a clear goal. Once Baby completed his “last” job, everything shifted to try and show the other side of his life … just not long enough to make you feel the dread of waiting on the other shoe to drop. Then following the final mission of the movie, everything takes an odd turn where you don’t know what to expect. It wasn’t something where there are twists and turns, just more of a “what? really?” type of response.
Baby Driver as mentioned earlier is a fun movie that wants to help you escape from your everyday life. Whether it is a smile during the dancing scenes or a tear jerking scene when Baby is dealing with Joseph, you should feel something most of the movie. It is definitely worth catching in theatres, preferably a big screen with sound system that is almost too loud.
The one aspect I feel I was severely misled was to expect non-stop car chases. While the first chase was amazing, the rest of the movie was not an all out adrenaline rush. I expected something a little more akin to my recommendation: The Transporter. While more money and attention to detail went into Baby Driver, Transporter was definitely more of an action movie. It is also what introduced most of America to Jason Statham. There are more fight scenes than chase scenes, but it is more of what I expected out of Baby Driver.
One last thought based on a recent conversation. The Tequila scene was great … but there is only room for one great Tequila scene in movie history! PeeWee’s Big Adventure.