Sunday, June 25, 2017

Baby Driver Review

A special, early review of Edgar Wright's latest!

I've never been to an early screening before, so when I was invited by a fellow film critic to attend an early screening of Baby Driver, I was sold instantly. Look, as much as I may sound like a snobbish critic sometimes, and believe me, I know I can be, I'm just a guy that really loves movies. I love being able to talk about movies, games, anime, and all of that. It just so happens that I'm also the kind of guy to scream from the mountain tops when I see something I really, really like or really, really hate. I'm just a guy, and truth be told, I was in a bit of a rut critically when I was asked to see this movie. My two options for movies to see this weekend in order to get a review out were Cars 3 or Transformers: The Last Knight, and I just couldn't bear to see either one. Not only that, but that was originally going to be a Triple Feature with Captain Underpants, which I loved, and Get Out, which I still haven't seen yet (thank you Persona 5). To make a long story short, I needed a breath of fresh air to not be overwhelmed and give a half ass review of any of those movies, so being able to talk about Baby Driver a few days before it gets released was exactly the kind of jump I needed.

Anyway, dear lord Baby Driver is great. I mean, wow is this movie a ton of fun and a hell of a heist movie.

This is going to be a bit of a shorter review for two reasons. First, I want to give just enough of a tease in order to convince you all to go see this movie without spoiling a damned thing, and second, I can sum up why this movie is good in just three words; car chase musical.

Well okay, it's not a full blown musical. No one sings and there are no dance numbers, but music is so heavily integrated into the movie that action scenes are based around it, driving scenes are based around it, character is based around it, and even a few walking scenes are done expertly well with music set to our main character just walking down a street to get coffee. It's hard to describe, but imagine a rock song set during an action scene where the action is cut to the music, gun shots are set to the drums, sirens are set to the guitars, and the actions flows the same way the tempo of a song flows. It's masterful and makes every moment even better when it hits the right beats.

Our story is about Baby, a driver for a crime boss played by Kevin Spacey. Baby has been his driver for years and years since his mother died because he's in debt to Kevin Spacey. Baby does a job for him, and the debt is slightly paid off. Now Baby needs to do one more job before he's all squared away with Kevin Spacey, but he falls in love with a girl named Debora. Baby wants to go straight and not be involved in the crime world anymore, but he still needs to take care of that final heist, but will he actually be off scott free after it's all done?

In case you haven't noticed from literally everything I've said so far, Baby Driver is about car chases. Duh. They're peppered throughout the entire movie and are easily the most entertaining part of the movie. The stunt work is absolutely incredible and I haven't seen driving this intense and thrilling since Mad Max: Fury Road. Cars will crash, cars will smash, and awesome music blares throughout the entire time.

Edgar Wright has a very specific style when it comes to making movies. He has funny dialogue, fun action scenes, and he definitely knows how to make something last after you've seen it. Edgar Wright has asked the questions "Which record would you throw at a zombie?" and "Do you really have to pee on her?" Here, that unique Edgar Wright charm is back, but with a much more American style to it. Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, and The World's End all had a very British sense of a humor and tone to them, while Scott Pilgrim was all about nerd culture with a touch of Canada mixed in. Here, Edgar Wright is making a movie that feels American and sounds American. If you didn't tell me this was an Edgar Wright movie, I never would have guessed that he made it. But it's so stylish and fun and unlike anything he's ever done before that I want much more of this kind of Edgar Wright.

Kevin Spacey is fantastic in this movie, as is Ansel Elgort as Baby, but Jamie Foxx dominated Baby Driver from the second he steps on screen. He channels as much Jules Winnfield as he can manage, and it's delightful to sit there and watch him just go ballistic whenever he can get the chance. My theatre was going nuts whenever he appeared, and during all of the intense action scenes, Jamie Foxx or not, the audience was cheering, applauding, and laughing their asses off whenever they got the chance.

The highlight of the movie, for me at least, was right when everything comes together and every character needs to quickly fend for themselves however they can. That long action scene has the best moments, the best action, and is all set to one of the best instrumental rock songs of all time that elevates everything to its most intense. I was shaking when the scene was done, and I haven't shook during an action movie in a long, long time.

Was Baby Driver perfect? No, but I can forgive it's few flaws. The love story between Baby and Debora feels underdeveloped, especially given that it's the focus of Baby's character, and the movie takes a bit long to really get going, but when it does, it goes at full throttle.

Above all else, I noticed one thing that I was doing to entire movie that I've never done in any other movie; I was tapping my foot along to the music. I know it seems weird to focus on how much the music impressed me, but I was enjoying Baby Driver as a visually great piece of film, but also auditorily as a movie with one of the best soundtracks I've heard all year. And it's so weird to me that it's coming from an action movie, but here we are!

Baby Driver is great. It can't get easier to say than that, and I hope we get more and more great movies like it. Hell, my cop runneth over with all of the fantastic movies this year, and if we get more Baby Driver's, this could be one of the best years I've ever seen for movies. Year's halfway done, and it couldn't have ended on a higher note.


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