A Shoot-Em-Up Lovesong
The ‘rewatchability’ of movies (yes, that’s a word now) has always perplexed me. I don’t think anyone could call Scary Movie a fantastic movie, but strand me on an island with a DVD of said comedy and I’ll be as happy as a clam (I’m easily humoured). However, being stuck with one of my favourite films of all time, the masterpiece that is City of God, may bum me out – what with all the Brazilian kids being shot and all…
I went to watch Baby Driver shortly after my 21st birthday with a good friend (we needed somewhere to sit down after the night before). I always feel guilty going to the cinema with someone who’s already seen the film. Despite this, I went and did the very same thing with my family, and I was not disappointed.
PLOT: Baby is a driver for criminal heists. Trying to get out of the business, he meets the girl of his dreams and strives to escape the people who keep bringing him back into the game.
In my mind, Baby Driver has something for everyone: the action is well-choreographed, the music is a hipster’s dream, and the romantic subplot is a surprising driving force (pun intended) within the narrative. There’s always the danger of losing lucidity when dealing with so much content, and the mix of genres may be polarising to some, but Baby Driver meticulously builds a creative hierarchy of weird aesthetic surprises and easter eggs. A tattoo changed from “H-A-T-E” to “H-A-T” and semi-obscure cameos from songwriters and musicians all help to create a slightly strange (or more aptly ‘off’) world that has that ‘so-strange-its-believable’ vibes.
Rewatching the film, I became much more aware of all the subtleties director Edgar Wright had hidden: lyrics of the ensuing song graffitied on a wall as well as quips from a television later repeated in Baby’s lines. This isn’t too dissimilar to small intricacies you may find in his film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, however, you’d be mistaken if you’re looking for the same comedic feel of Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz (which Wright also directed). While finding time to not take itself too seriously, Baby Driver delivers a more gritty film to vary Wright’s filmography.
Baby: You and I are a team. Doc: Don't feed me any more lines from 'Monsters, Inc.' It pisses me off!
Baby himself is an intriguing character with his own quirks (brilliantly performed by The Fault in Our Stars heart-throb Ansel Elgort) – never seen without headphones and making jazzy tunes out of people’s conversations. All the characters, no matter how small they, have some sort of spark of oddity that makes them feel so alive (I was particularly fond of Baby’s foster father Joseph – spread it to the edges!). Another nice surprise is how the main antagonist shifts between characters to constantly keep Baby cemented in the trappings of criminal life: the psychopathic Bats (Jamie Foxx), calculating kingpin Doc (Kevin Spacey), and even the cool-handed romantic Buddy (Jon Hamm) have tactfully ranged performances to become the metaphorical brakes on Baby’s literal road to freedom (again, all puns intended).
The last thing to note is the entwinement of music and action: gunshots punch with the drums of The Champs‘ ‘Tequila’ while rock anthems ‘Bellbottoms’, ‘Hocus Pocus’, and ‘Brighton Rock’ conjures an excitement I haven’t experienced since the infamous church scene from Kingsman: The Secret Service (my Spotify playlist now includes the whole soundtrack). Admittedly, the blend of music making movie magic fizzles out after the first couple of scenes; I would have liked to have seen the musical madness pushed more in the final showdown.
Baby Driver left me interestingly bemused. You can take it as it is, and be more than happy with the copious amounts of heart-stopping action and interesting characters, but you get the feeling the film is trying to say something deeper, or at least trying to hark back to something. Recent actions films like King Arthur and The Mummy shoulder into the box-office with loud-mouth attitudes that remind me of stereotypical American jocks whose brashness compensates for their lack of character. Watching Baby Driver, it is painstakingly clear that Wright cared about what he was creating, resulting in a high-octane blockbuster with soul at its core.
Deborah: I can't wait until the day when it's just us, music and the road. See you later Baby.
Special thanks to Sophie!