Amazing direction, stellar cinematography, fantastic casting, mind-blowing stunts, excellent writing, and rock solid performances make Baby Driver one of the best films of the year.
The film centers around a getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort). He works for an Atlanta Crime Boss named Doc (played by Kevin Spacey) who he’s known since his mother and father passed away some time ago. The crooks in Doc’s crew find him to be slightly awkward. Griff (Jon Bernthal) asks if he’s mental? It’s a fair question because what driver can do what he does on the road at the speeds he goes at while keeping earbuds in his ear so he can listen to his favorite mixes.
Baby leads a simple life (beyond that whole getaway driver thing). He loves taking care of his foster dad who is deaf but knows full well what he has been up to. His world is turned on its ear when he meets Debora (Lily James), a waitress who loves music but appears to love him more. It’s the first time that he sees the light at the end of this dark tunnel of crime. Reality begins to crash in as Doc tracks him down and threatens his loved ones if he doesn’t agree to this next job. He quickly finds himself back in a room with Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza González), and a psychopath named Bats (Jamie Foxx). Plans are devised for the heist that will change their lives.
The film’s chase sequences are exquisitely choreographed to Edgar Wright’s carefully selected soundtrack. The audience quickly forgets they’re watching a car chase and begins to marvel at the artistic quality of the synchronicity in this full throttle high-octane fest through downtown Atlanta. It’s a symphony of sound, a sight to behold, and a feast for the senses. ‘Baby Driver’ is Wright’s love letter to the great heist movies of the past.
Bill Pope, who is best known for his work on The Matrix, has a gift for framing action sequences allowing for the most impact. Who could forget the scene where Keanu Reeves bends back in slow motion as Agent Smith fires multiple shots at him that miss completely? Every time there’s a chase sequence in Baby Driver, Pope makes sure to keep the getaway car entirely in the frame. This allows us to see every tire squeal, every impossible turn, and indeed the deft ability of Baby’s driving.
The casting decisions in the film were outstanding. Ansel Elgort was a perfect choice for the lead being that he can project the right amount of innocence mixed with a certain degree of edge. The character of Doc needed to be someone who could command the room and who better to do that than Kevin Spacey? Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx both stepped away from their usual leading man status to take on more supporting role and boy did they both kill it. Foxx walked that fine line between humor and being psychotic in the role of Bats. The biggest surprise to me was how well Hamm did in the film. This role is the furthest that I’ve ever seen him venture from his infamous role of Don Draper. His performance was nuanced and refreshing to see. One can only hope he’ll continue taking on this types of characters. Jon Bernthal did what he’s done for years, and that looks menacing. Eiza González added the right mix of sex appeal and psychotic behavior to the narrative.
Loved the relationship dynamic between Buddy and Darling. There are conversations those two have that add another comedic layer to the narrative. Seeing them talk about the outlandish ideas they had for their cut of the money was a nice break from the edginess of the film.
Loved the themes the narrative introduced. In the beginning, Baby didn’t think about these heists as they were a means to an end. Debora enters his life, and he’s enamored by not only by her beauty but also by what a great person she is. It’s at this point that he seriously ponders the morality of what he’s doing. Is it right to be getting out of debt with someone even if it means shattering hundreds of lives in the process?
Baby Driver is an intoxicating orgy of violence, speed, passion, and music that’s choreographed with such precision that the final product comes as something more than just a heist movie. This is Edgar Wright’s pièce de résistance, a cinematic equivalent to Beethoven’s 5th symphony. In an era in which Transformers: The Last Knight exists, it gives me hope that directors like Wright are breathing originality into a world filled with sequels, reboots, and superhero films. Baby Driver not only is one of the best releases of the summer movie season, but it is also one of the best of films of the year period. Do yourself a favor and see just how wonderful this picture truly is.