FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: A couple nights ago, I saw “Baby Driver,” which stars Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent), Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential), Lily James (Cinderella , Darkest Hour ), Jon Hamm (Mad Men [TV series], Million Dollar Arm), Eliza González (Almost Thirty, Welcome to Marwen), CJ Jones (Door in the Woods, Cold Case [TV series]), Jamie Foxx (Collateral, Law Abiding Citizen), Lanny Joon (Takers, Hollywood Wasteland [TV series]), Jon Bernthal (Fury, Grudge Match), and Flea (The Big Lebowski, Back to the Future Part II). It is written and directed by Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). A getaway driver named Baby (Elgort) working for a crime boss looks to get out of his tricky predicament, but finds that it isn’t as easy as he thought.
Music, fast cars, and complex heisting; all in a day’s work. Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” boasts a sharp wit, crafting a story with such style and devotion to editing that it’s difficult not to have fun watching this tale of a getaway driver unfold. I’m late to the party, I know. When this thing hit theaters, people were going nuts (and by people, I particularly mean film majors and enthusiasts). Wright is a highly admired and respected filmmaker in the world of cinema, gaining traction with his Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy and “Scott Pilgrim Saves the World.” Personally, I’ve never seen a film of his, but I’ve wanted to for quite some time. I debated whether or not to hold off watching “Baby Driver” before hosting another director’s marathon showcasing Wright’s work, but I caved in; it was a Friday night and my choices were limited (whattaya gonna do?). The worst thing a moviegoer can do before seeing a flick is hold high expectations. Having high expectations causes a higher chance of being disappointed, as opposed to having low or no expectations and being susceptible to enjoying it more (if it turns out well, that is). Why I bring this up is because “Baby Driver” has gotten rave reviews and recommendations. So much so that I was feeling intimidated. I speak of expectations in my reviews often, but typically that’s how my mind operates before and after seeing a feature. “Baby Driver,” all in all, is a fantastically made film that shoots for the moon with great visuals and an infusion of music that’s hard to forget. Right from the beginning, we get a grasp of what Wright is going for. The first six minutes entail a heist scene that plays along to the song “Bellbottoms,” both in cutting and the characters’ actions. It was great and was right up my alley in terms of quippy filmmaking. This sets the tone for the rest of the feature, as it seeks to please the audience with a flare for style. The best word to describe the experience is entertaining. It’s a non-stop ride with its own mind, leaving the viewers to peer in for themselves and take in what’s going on. Being someone who hasn’t witnessed a Wright film, I can safely say I’m impressed and wish I’ve watched his stuff sooner. Granted, “Baby Driver” comes with its issues, but that’s not to say it doesn’t do the job Wright set out to do. The acting is solid, with top-notch performances by Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, who stole the show in my opinion. Yes, I didn’t mention Ansel Elgort; he did a really good job, I just thought Hamm and Foxx did the best out of everyone. The job they did in playing along to the music is enough to commend them on the film. Speaking of, the song choices were right in tune with what I look for. I’m a folksy, old rock kinda guy (the sweet spot is the 70s), and it seems like Wright lines up with the same tastes. I was shocked to know quite a bit of the selections, which made for even further enjoyment. That, along with the cinematography give life to this picture. If you can count on anything with “Baby Driver,” it’s the look and editing; good stuff, indeed. There’s quite a bit to take away from this experience that I’m sure people will hold onto, but unfortunately the release falls short of claiming legendary status. Why? It’s characters. I’m not saying that the people Wright created for this picture were bad, but rather they were under-developed. Baby was the only character who really got enough light for me to feel for, and even I think he deserved a bit more. I understood why he did what he did, what happened to him in the past, and that he’s a nice guy, but there wasn’t enough personality to the kid for me to really grapple onto him. He was interesting for sure, but there was more left to be discovered. The same goes for everyone else, with all characters taking a backseat to the overall look and style sought after in the picture. Most things that happened were predictable, outside of the character played by Jamie Foxx, Bats. He was the best character solely for how loose of a cannon he was, creating situations that were out of left field and caused more harm than good. I enjoyed these devious characters, but mainly for their personalities, which were either witty, quirky, or boisterous. Not much happened with any of them besides robbing places; no backstory, no development outside of Baby. This wouldn’t be much of an issue if Baby was just worked on more. Outside of the parent schtick that is set up to make Baby a broken guy, we are shown his personality through a girl he likes named Debora (James), which leads me to my last point to make with the cons. Though I thought the two had good enough chemistry, the reasoning behind the immense love shared for one another is stretched beyond the limits. Baby has seemingly liked Debora for quite some time, but in the movie Debora just starts developing feelings for him (more of a curiosity turned to liking). I liked the build up of things from the first to second act, with it reaching greatness towards its climax, but somewhere along the way in the third act it lost steam, and I believe it not only had something to do with the almost hollow character development, but also the relationship shared between Baby and Debora. I’m not going to spoil it, but she does a lot for him for only liking the guy for…what…a couple weeks? You can call it cinema, but for some reason it irked me. It’s hard to explain, but that’s how I feel. Though the characters could’ve certainly been dug into more, I loved the style and look of “Baby Driver.” It boasts a lot of good to upheave the dangerous effects of the cons, and I’d still recommend it to others. FINAL SCORE: 89%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer:
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