Lately I've been noticing a trend in action cinematography that I think is a great return to form for the genre. Gone should be the days of rapid cuts during fight sequences, and pandering cgi car chases, and after such great movies as Mad Max and John Wick, I realized just how truly terrible the action genre has become. Baby Driver is, in my humble opinion, the exact direction I think the action genre needs to continue moving in. When you get giant cgi destruction sequences in the middle of car chases, and everyone drives a big black SUV or literally all characters have some exotic import, the viewer is removed so far from the heart of the film that it becomes a chose to even remember what characters are where within the sequence. In Edgar Wrights new film, he actually uses old car chase techniques and blends it with modern camera tracking in a flawless effort to make the colors pop, the characters stand out from each other, and does it in such a way that the audience can see everything happening on the screen without being confused or actually having to dedicate focus on just keeping up with what's happening on screen. In essence, Baby Driver is a huge win for director Edgar Wright and sure to be a classic summer fun movie.
This movie actually surprised me. It is first and foremost a love story. The romance is hidden well behind intense drive sequences and plenty of action but the heart of the film is truly, almost 1950's esque, romance plot. Baby is a protagonist who is orphaned at a young age due to a car wreck he and his parents were involved in. As a result of the same wreck he has a permanent case of tinnitus and constantly listens to music to drown out the ringing. He is obsessed with music to the point of borderline OCD, and can't perform well without a playlist going from one of his Ipods or a tracks, of which combined he owns near 100. Baby has been boosting cars from a very young age and as a result developed exceptional driving skills, however one car he lifted and subsequently destroyed had quite a bit of money in it as unbeknownst to him it belonged to a mobster type man known as The Doc. The Doc is a man who specializes in putting together heists, taking into account every detail and then recruiting people from the criminal underworld to carry out the plan. Baby, now indebted to him and working the heists to pay off the debt, is the only regular member of the teams the Doc brings together. Baby is always the getaway driver.
The films opening sequence shows just how heists go down. Baby drives a team of people to the location, they rob it in a loud stick up, and then return to the car Baby drove them in. It is then up to Baby to lose the cops through a little bit of pre-planning we learn later with the Doc, but much of it is improvised by Baby on the spot. We see his driving prowess immediately, a field which he is pretty much unmatched in. After the heist goes down and we learn his and Doc's relationship, we learn a little more about how baby lives his life and meets the girl of his dreams, a waitress named Deborah. Deborah and Baby immediately connect over music and plan to run away together driving into the sunset with no plan and the money Baby has saved from his multiple heists. Baby just has to do one last job for the Doc and he's replayed the debt.
The supposed last job Baby does is with a new team however there is a wildcard member named Bats who causes in fighting amongst the members. Ultimately they manage to do the job however Bats learns that Baby has a moral code and is clearly not cut out to be a full blooded criminal. His debt replayed, Baby courts with Deborah for a time until Doc comes around and says that he believes Baby is his good luck charm, and refuses to let him out of the business like he promised to do once the debt was gone. Things begin to fall apart not just for Baby but also in the overarching subtleties of the movie, letting the viewer know that this heist is destined to go bad. This job introduced us to a few familiar faces, Baby, Buddy, and Darling, all of whom we met in the first heist during the opening sequence and again Bats. Each of these characters have their own quirks that make them unique to the heist. Baby the music listening getaway driver, Buddy and Darling the Bonnie and Clide who play it cool and calm during a firefight, and finally Bats who as before is pretty much a trigger happy madman. Bat's, always paranoid of his surroundings and his partners, causes much more escalation between the team. Bats kills Doc's contacts drawing police attention and Doc wants to call off the heist however the team refuses and votes that they should do the job, a very large score, then lay low afterwards as they have a 24 hour window to get out of town. Baby is pressured into agreeing, however he tells Deborah that they will run away that night. When he attempts to skip out on the group they catch him and refuse to let him leave.
The next day, the heist begins, and Baby signals to a worker he met the day before that something is wrong and she shouldn't go in. This sets off a chain reaction of police being notified, and Baby purposely blotches the job, killing Bats in the process. The rest of the movie is Baby attempting to get out of town with Deborah. After many more laughs, heartbreak, and a twist revealing that Buddy will be the main antagonistic force in the end, Baby and Deborah manage to escape however they do not get far as the police finally catch them. Baby is sentance to prison for his crimes and Deborah isn't, presumably by Baby lying and easily convincing an unwitting jury she didn't know what Baby had done when she was helping him. Baby is sentance to a 25 year sentance however he receives an glowing character review from many people he meets throughout the movie that he spared, warned, or even apologized to due to his moral views and the movie ends with him getting out of prison on parole only 5 years after being sentanced. Deborah waits for him during this time and they ride off into the sunset together like they originally intended.
Now to those that have seen this film if it seems like I skipped a lot of the plot or watered it down its because I did. I believe that this is a movie everyone needs to see and as such I don't want to spoil every precious moment in the film, and there are many. I really enjoyed how Bats was set up to be the villian of the movie but instead it became Buddy, who was arguably the only one on the team who got along with Baby. I enjoyed the landscape shots of the car sequences and unusual cars baby chooses to keep the audience pinpointed on the focus of each shot. The music was fantastic, several things were set up with the score to emphasize themes and misdirection that I find very hard to describe unless you've seen the film. This movie, in my opinion, is a contestant for movie of the year. It certainly is a refresh for the car genre. It definitely should be a reference for how to pull off a romance without becoming over saturated by that theme. I cannot recommend Baby Driver enough.
Edgar Wright really surprised me with this film. Even going in knowing his cinema history I still received something unexpected. Baby as a protagonist was not typical by any means. His ticks and quirks did not make him, well, cool in any way. He just seemed like an average guy and the only reason you really end up rooting for him is because of how terrible the people around him are. However, while that may be the case I found him as one of the most relatable characters I've come across. He tries to be smooth a suave with Deborah and it falls flat or comes off as overly cheesy on purpose and Deborah recognizes and calls him out on this, making their relationship organic. I felt like I was watching real people. The quirks were certainly heightened for entertainment purposeses however the actual dialog, the writing and the superior acting from each character made me feel like these were actual people, and I was watching an actual relationship between each character blossom. If Baby did something cringe, like all young men eventually do trying to woo a woman, it was on purpose in the movie, it wasn't because the movie took the moment seriously and that's what made me cringe. Baby also acted like a young man, he would constantly try on different pairs of sunglasses, looking in mirrors and obsessing over how they sat on his face in the middle of a serious moment. He also needed his music to drive well and was off without it, something relatable to anyone who has a habit they do when focusing. And the characters weren't stupid! My god how refreshing to see a movie where people could think for themselves. Nothing felt forced for the plot, decisions made sense, and this combined with the little habits I mentioned of Baby (and each character had their own little habits) made me feel like I was watching real people with relatable ticks rather than a rich actor pretending to be a normal person, or worse lately in Hollywood, an actor playing themselves.
What more can I say besides bravo to Baby Driver, Edgar Wright, and the entire cast and production crew of this film. This is how you make an action movie. This is the relatable direction I want to see the genre go in. When compared to other summer movies, I never find myself relating to Angry Bald Man (anyone in Fast and Furious) or Confused and Ignored Guy (any lead in Transformers), who know who I do relate to? A kid who does what I do and the whole action plot is his side activity. A kid who poses silly in mirrors with sunglasses, or jams out in his car with full fake microphone sing along; a guy who makes stupid funny faces when no one's watching for no one else's amusement than to laugh at himself privately, and a man who wants to get the girl in the end and is willing to do really stupid things to make it happen. Baby Driver is fun, action packed, and anyone can watch it and relate to the protagonist. If you haven't seen this movie GO WATCH IT. Be absolutely sure to check out the video below for a taste of what to expect.