Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Baby Driver

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Nobody puts Baby in the corner...or makes Baby parallel park.

Baby Driver – 5 out of 5

Edgar Wright is a pretty accomplished and creative filmmaker that has given us films that has pretty much been permanently etched into our pop culture lexicon.  His big screen success came with the zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead and would continue with the other two films in The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy and the adaptation of the comic series Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  The man has a flare for humor but also a unique eye for film and its usage of music.  Baby Driver seems to be the culmination of his thesis of how music can effectively enhance a story and express tone and atmosphere—and it works so incredibly well.

                                                                                                            TriStar Pictures
There's a whole lot of cool on that elevator.  Just looking at it and my textbooks
got dumped and I was pants.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) suffered a terrible trauma as a child but has an amazing talent for driving.  As a way to deal with his trauma, Baby constantly is connected to a pair of ear buds hooked to an iPod and he is essentially providing the soundtrack for his life and his escapades.  There’s no doubt he’s a tad eccentric but his employer Doc (Kevin Spacey) believes him to be his good luck charm and uses his for every heist he plans.  Baby hopes to one day be square with Doc so that he can give up this life of crime and this dream is only reinforced when he meets and falls in love with a waitress named Debora (Lily James).  However, when the day comes for his last job, his cohorts; the criminal couple Darling (Eiza Gonzรกlez) and Buddy (Jon Hamm), and the unhinged Bats (Jamie Foxx), might end up destroying that dream before it has a chance to manifest itself.

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I'll just throw this out there...Jamie Foxx is intimidating as hell in this film.

You know those really great movie trailers that have a song that feels absolutely perfect for the action and visuals and the edits are cut perfectly to the beat?  Yeah, that’s exactly how Baby Driver feels and how it presents itself.  The film is one part heist feature, one part action movie, and another parts love story and it all comes off like a great trailer that has been perfectly cut to the beat.  The movie has an amazing flow to it like it is the blessed offspring of a music video and an action film.  To put it bluntly, I absolutely adored Baby Driver.

                                                                                                             TriStar Pictures
Yes, I said I adored Baby Driver.  This still seems to illustrate well the cutesy
love I have for it.

What’s truly remarkable about this latest release from Edgar Wright is how the movie never truly feels like it is trapped into any one genre.  At its core, the movie feels like it is just a heist movie with a great soundtrack, amazing talent in its cast and some truly amazing stunt driving but Wright, like he so often does, goes several steps forward.  The movie incorporates terrifically interesting and dynamic characters and its central character undergoes some tremendous development.  The story also delivers a charming and sweet love story that feels essential to the tale and not just a tacked on love interest that often plagues so many action features.  Debora isn’t around just so Baby has some eye candy to hang off his arm.  She’s around to inspire Baby and be his driving force to make a new life for himself.  Additionally, the on-screen chemistry between Elgort and James is absolutely adorable and completely believable.  Wright also has some fun with a nice homage to old Hollywood in the form of Kevin Spacey’s character.  Doc feels very much like he was lifted from a Rat Pack film as his fast-talking and slang flinging style feels borrowed from old heist films.  These elements only make the kickass stunt driving and heist features stronger and made for a film that felt more than just something with exciting action (not that there’s anything wrong with that because I do love my popcorn action films as much as I love the action films that have heart and charm to them).

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Can I describe Spacey's performance as "delightful" even though I never
describe performances as "delightful?"  Screw it, his performance
was delightful.

As it concerns the cast, this film can’t be beat.  On paper, it looks like you can’t lose with the likes of Hamm, Spacey, and Foxx in the film and, in practice, you don’t.  Their performances are absolutely astounding to watch and they are backed up by some great supporting players that may have small roles but they are far from forgettable.  For example, Jon Bernthal and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers are other nefarious thieves that Baby finds himself working with and they definitely highlight the fact this film offers up a very entertaining and colorful mash up of characters.  The strongest member of the cast, however, was Ansel Elgort.  

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With that face and the speed at which he drives, you could say he is
quick and irritated.

Being the starring player, it makes sense that Elgort should be the best part of the film but history has shown us that sometimes that is not always the case.  However, for Baby Driver, Elgort gave a performance that showed us that he is ready and deserves to be a leading man and needs to be one for a long time.  This film shows that he is more than just a dude in some tween novels like The Fault in Our Stars and the Divergent films.  He made Baby a compelling and sympathetic character but, more importantly, he made the character fun.  He doesn’t say much because he’s constantly got his ear buds in and is lost in his music while absorbing the world around him but the body language and physical acting he brings to the table says more than the few lines he delivers.  Basically, he’s just awesome in this film!

Finally, the last thing that really made this movie is how Wright uses music.  Not only is he bringing in tunes that feel like they were custom made for the sequence they are used in, he also edits them in to near perfection.  The music isn’t just there to accompany what you are seeing, it is literally part of the action.  The fast cuts, the performances and even things like the blasts of a semi-automatic guns are all edited to the beat and it makes for sequences that flow smoothly and are undeniably fun.  They aren’t just moments to watch in Baby Driver, they are moments to experience.

                                                                                                             TriStar Pictures
Rumors are that Wright is going to do a sequel.  If so, can he bring back
Jon Bernthal please?

Without a doubt, Baby Driver might be my favorite movie that Edgar Wright has written and directed.  The man has always shown that he is a wizard at making music and visuals come together in fun and memorable ways but the way he handled music in this film is almost otherworldly.  The absolutely perfect way he found music to compliment and then the way it was edited to be practically a character all by itself is one on a genius level.  When you factor in that this film has astounding stunt driving, a stupidly talent cast all playing very engaging and entertaining characters and a story that easily sucked me in and took me on a wild ride that allowed for development and heart without feeling like it slowed down and what I found myself experiencing was nothing short of a masterpiece.

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