Summer Movie Review
Part 3: Baby Driver
Writer: Riley Glenn
Picture via Letterboxd
Over the past two months, I have seen a number of movies that have come out. So far, these include; Baby Driver, Spider-Man Homecoming, Wonder Woman, and Dunkirk. These four movies are different in their own ways and my goal is to compare them and review how they did as films and offer my two cents on them. What follows is part three of a weekly movie article, which began with my number four pick, and least favorite, from the summer movies I have seen. If you missed it, I previously reviewed Wonder Woman, my number four pick; Dunkirk, my number three pick and I touched on Spider-Man Homecoming as my number two pick. If I see a movie that ranks lower than this before the end of summer, I will try to adjust my articles accordingly and make it clear how each movie ranks in comparison to the others.
#1: Baby Driver: 8/10
Baby Driver is the latest movie from writer/director Edgar Wright. This original screenplay came into fruition after Wright was dropped from directing Ant-Man in 2015. The story follows a young man, named Baby, with tinnitus who is always listening to music to drown out the constant ringing in his head. However, Baby is a getaway driver and is involved in the dark underbelly of Atlanta. Aside from the fact that Edgar Wright directed my favorite movie of all time, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, he has a very unique style and his visual comedy is always on point. Having directed others including the Cornetto trilogy as well; films include Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and the Worlds End, Wright has easily become one of my top five directors. Going into the theater I was expecting a pretty good movie, and I got an amazing movie.
First of all, let’s talk about the soundtrack. For people who haven’t heard somehow, almost everything in the movie is synced to music in some way, especially things like gunshots, punches, and footsteps. Aside from the fact that Edgar Wright has an amazing musical taste and great visions for what songs would be good in a specific scene; the amount of timing and directing needed to sync everything to the song is unreal. If anyone hasn’t seen it yet, I’m going to put in a link to the first scene, just so you can get a taste of the movie and wonders that you are missing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ARFyrM6gVs . Other than the first scene, the second, when Baby walks through downtown, is one of my single favorite scenes I have seen in a long time. As Baby walks down the streets, the lyrics of the song will sometimes sync up to graffiti, characters, or what Baby does. At first listen and viewing, it may not be very easily perceived, but upon further watches, the audience will begin to notice very small things and exactly how much of the movie is actually in time to music. Wright should be praised for his synchronized timing alone. In interviews about the movie it was said that not only was the entire movie written around the soundtrack, but he sent all the actors in the movie a thumb drive with the script so they could understand exactly how the movie would go with the music. This fact pleases me as an aspiring filmmaker and I think this is exactly the type of director that Hollywood needs. When I watch Baby Driver, I see the same amount of meticulous directing that is prevalent throughout Stanley Kubrick’s career. While Edgar Wright is not one to make heavy, thought provoking, and intense movies such as the Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and 2001: A Space Odyssey; he does bring the same amount of intense directing that makes Kubrick one of my favorite directors as well. Just as Scott Pilgrim used music to it’s advantage to set it apart and give it a more video game feel, Baby Driver does an even better job at this, immersing you directly into the world of Baby and the events around him. One thing I enjoyed about the movie was that all the music in it had a source. None of the songs were being played without a character in the movie playing it purposefully. The directing in the car scenes as well as the action sequences was pretty good. The acting was decent, nothing really stood out to me, except for my main man, Jon Hamm. The comedy was usually right on target and really fell flat. The love story was pretty good, reminded me a lot of Scott & Ramona from Scott Pilgrim, and I am beginning to recognize Wright’s growing skill at writing romantic characters. The cinematography is amazing, as almost every Edgar Wright film is, and his style, while very toned down, is still very prevalent. Finally, one of the biggest things I enjoyed, other than the amazing directing, was the message. To me, this movie, and almost all of Wright’s films could be seen as a giant middle finger to Hollywood and the norms of genre. Every movie made by Wright is an outlier to the movies in whatever genre they fit in, mainly in the fact that they are original and.. Good. The majority of the genres each movie fits into is known for not being very good; Shaun of the Dead being a zombie movie, Hot Fuzz being a detective/cop movie, Scott Pilgrim being a romcom and video game movie, and finally, Baby Driver being a getaway/heist/car movie. Wright has said himself that he does not like franchise movies, something I completely agree with, but that’s another discussion. This is something I find pretty funny seeing as he directed a good car/getaway/heist movie that is not part of a franchise when all that can be found is the opposite, *cough* Fast & Furious *cough*. The ironic cherry on top is that this movie came to him after he was let go from Marvel’s Ant-Man, the epitome of a franchise movie.
Almost everything I have to say about this movie is good, and even the negatives I have with it aren’t very bad and in the long run, barely affect the overall viewing experience. Jamie Foxx’s character began to get annoying as his screen time grew. I am confused why John Bernthal is advertised as one of the heavy hitters in the movie, his name is fourth on the poster; above Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, both of which had much larger roles than him. Also, the usual transitions and intense and quick cutaways used in most Wright movies are, to my sadness, almost completely absent. Other than small nitpicking, one of the only major things that bugged me was that (SPOILER) Jon Hamm’s character betrays Baby and tries to kill him and Debra. The whole movie he had been nice to Baby and even bonded with him about music. Finally, the only other thing that I did not like is that (SPOILER) Baby ends up going to jail, even though it’s redeemed by people vouching for him and having him released and leaving with Debra. I have no idea why, but I never like in a movie when the main character dies, goes to jail, or is disfigured by the end. I think it’s because Hollywood has ingrained the idea of an action hero going through the whole mission unscathed in my head that when a realistic movie makes a character responsible for their actions, it catches me off guard.
In conclusion, Baby Driver is a very original film and a breath of fresh air in a time when almost every movie feels like a carbon copy of one that preceded it. It is a very fun and entertaining time and a movie I find myself thinking about a lot. I will be seeing this movie until every frame is burned into my memory, just like Scott Pilgrim, that way I can make sure I get everything out of it. This is a heavy hitter with a lot of small easter egg type things that once you discover how something in the movie relates to a song, will increase your viewing experience. While I would say this movie is a good intro level Edgar Wright movie, I can still see how it is not for everyone, this is just how I felt about it.