Movie Review: Baby Driver
Baby Driver is destined to become a classic. It's stylish, visually and sonically inventive, and funny. It's also original in the same counter-intuitive way Quentin Tarantino movies are: it's influenced by so many different sources, and borrows from such a wide range of cinema lore that nothing else feels remotely like it, even the movies that inspired it.
Baby Driver is a story about a getaway driver named Baby. (It's unclear if the title of the movie--inspired by the Simon and Garfunkel song-- or the plot came first, but I expect a natural disaster movie called Bridge Over Troubled Water to come out sometime next summer.) Baby has tinnitus and drowns out the humming noise with a constant barrage of music, and the music he listens to serves as the score of the film.
The reason this works as more than a gimmick is that A) the music is great and diverse and B) it's interwoven into the plot, the dialogue, and the action of the film. It's hard to imagine how much time Wright spent just picking out the music and integrating it into the film.
What's even more impressive is how inventive the film is on every other level as well. The movie is packed with jokes, visual gags, and countless little details.
If I had one issue with the film, it's that the characterization is a little thin and that the characters are clearly film archetypes. I'm positive this was intentional, but it still had the effect of keeping me at an emotional remove from the characters and occasionally questioning their paper-thin motives (especially Baby's girlfriend). Small quibbles aside, Baby Driver is an absolute must-see for anyone who loves movies.
Stars: 4.5 out of 5
How Does It Compare to Other Edgar Wright Movies?
Worse Than: Shaun of The Dead (after one viewing at least)
Better Than: Everything Else
I did not want to see Baby Driver--I think the trailer makes it look more action-y and cheaper than it really is. Although its premise feels a bit gimmicky to me, the movie pleasantly surprised me.
Baby has tinnitus (constant ringing in his ear), so he always listens to music. The movie, in turn, puts the soundtrack to the action and follows him as he is the driver for a series of robberies, while simultaneously falling in love.
The movie is great because is a few steps above the common summer action movie. It has something for more than just people who like The Fast and the Furious--yeah, it has car chase scenes, but as someone who is usually bored by the action part of action movies, I was not during this film. I don't know if it's because of the fast pace and the way the movie lets you actually follow what is happening as opposed to just showing cars whizzing by all over the place (which is what I usually feel like during action movies), or if it's because of the music, or because the characters actually have some depth, but it does a good job of reeling you in. It's a cross between a romance, an action movie, and an indie film (there are a variety of scenes where we're watching Baby walk down a street, and that's it, which could feel self-indulgent in the indie genre that I hate, but here it is entertaining because it's fast-paced and musical).
As I mentioned, the characters do have depth, but they are also somehow self-aware archetypes. Baby is the misfit, who doesn't want to be involved in crime but is blackmailed into it; his love interest Debora is the somewhat flat diner waitress who falls for the bad boy; Kevin Spacey plays the orchestrater of the whole thing, wearing suits in every scene and using others as his puppets. Despite these form characters, the movie makes them seem real, and still manages to surprise at the end with a few twists. It keeps moving and never slows down. The only part that seemed a bit phoned-in to me was Jon Hamm's character, who isn't entirely developed or believable and reads more like a caricature than the others.
Overall, this was a great movie, but I do have one bone to pick with it...could they have picked a different name for the main character? There's only one niche for a Baby, and it's a very specific corner.
Stars: 4.5 out of 5