Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t be writing a movie review on a music blog. But Baby Driver has made itself quite the exception.
Baby Driver tells the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort), a young man in his early 20s or so who works as a getaway driver for a man named Doc (Kevin Spacey). The film follows Baby through his struggle to break free of the world Doc dragged him into, especially once he meets love interest Debora (Lily James).
Baby Driver was a surprisingly good movie–even amazing, I would say. I went into the theater without much expectations of the film, mostly because I wasn’t sure what to expect: a action car film like Fast and Furious, or a cheesy romance film? From the previews I had seen, both directions seemed plausible. In the end, I got a great mix of both. Director Edgar Wright created a film that balanced these two aspects equally, with neither outweighing the other. My favorite part of this film, though, was the ending: it’s not what one would expect at all, and it’s up in the air about what has actually happened. If you’ve seen the movie already (or are too curious to wait), click here to read more about it.
Ansel Elgort’s performance as Baby was so well-done, you forget who he is and instantly become absorbed in the character of Baby. Baby has heart and soul, and is a highly relatable character right from the opening sequence, jamming and just having fun to a song playing over his earbuds, a song he clearly loves, as he walks down the streets of Atlanta. Baby comes across as a very innocent, lovable character with a bright mind, whom audiences instantly feel sympathetic for throughout the film. He almost constantly listens to music, although his motivation goes beyond a love of music: Baby suffers from tinnitis, or ringing in the ears, due to a childhood car crash. Possibly my favorite part about Baby, however, is his character arc, which is induced partly from the people he works with, and partly from Debora.
Lily James plays the sweet, innocent waitress Debora, the love interest of Baby. Her performance was well-played and extremely lovable, and James got to show off a bit of her singing chops with Carla Thomas’ “B-A-B-Y.” Debora is a spunky, fun character who elicits an emotional response from audiences for her to be kept safe from the craziness of Baby’s world. Kevin Spacey as Doc was intimidating, powerful, and dangerous, with a surprising twist by the end.
Also featured in the film were Jon Hamm as Buddy–who I think had one of the most flipped character twists in the movie–Eiza Gonzalez as Darling, Buddy’s wife; and Jamie Foxx as Bats, the crazy crew member. These supporting characters all had major impacts on the storyline, and I definitely appreciated them all. (I wish I could say more, but I’d prefer to avoid spoilers!)
And now, for the reason I’m doing a movie review on a music blog: Baby Driver is almost as much a music movie as it is a love and car movie. The music theme in this film is conveyed entirely through Baby, who always listens to music to drown out the ringing in his ears.
The soundtrack for this movie is amazingly diverse. You have hidden gems from various genres, going from rock and roll to rap to sappy love song. These songs also span across time, primarily from the 1970s-1990s, with not a single pop hit from any time period–a fact that made the movie diverse musically. Most films today have a signature song that’s used to market and plays within the film–for example, Wiz Kalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” for Fast and Furious 7–and Baby Driver set itself apart by not following suit. Only a few artists on the soundtrack are more commonly known, including songs by the Beach Boys, Beck, and Queen. Also included in the soundtrack is “Baby Driver,” by Simon & Garfunkel. To read Variety’s interview with Wright on the soundtrack, click here.
What I particularly enjoyed was how freaking in-sync everything was. There is music playing throughout about 99% of the movie, and the timing of the onscreen action to the music is insane. Everything happened to the beat of the music, down to the heists Baby goes on. In one scene, we even see Baby calling for the crew to wait so he can restart the song to time the heist to his beat. He steals a car and won’t drive away until he finds a song he likes and can work to. This technical aspect of syncing the action to music–and the fact that it’s both a part of the movie world and a cinematic aspect–add to the quality and enjoyability of the film.
Overall, I would say that Baby Driver is an exceptional movie that I hope many will go see. It’s action-filled, has a sweet romance, and keeps viewers on the edge with its story. I would 100% recommend this movie as your weekend film!
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