I watched Baby Driver the other night with some friends. I had been moderately excited for the film since I first heard about it. I love Edgar Wright. He is one of my favorite directors. Except, I don’t initially fall in love with his films the first time I watch them. It took a couple of tries to get Shaun of the Dead. Hot Fuzz was alright the first time I watched it, but I adored the film after subsequent watches. So far, I’ve only watched The World’s End once. It was okay. Hopefully, if and when I do watch it again, I’ll like it better.
So what do I think of Baby Driver? Eh.
I’m lukewarm on it, but that doesn’t mean it is not a finely crafted film. Edgar Wright commands the film as one would command his own body. The film is taut and lithe with barely a slow moment which would be the antithesis of a film about a getaway driver. Still, I couldn’t connect to the film on an emotional level.
Perhaps it has something to do with the main character. Ansel Elgort’s Baby is kind of boring. He’s a typical good guy in a bad situation. Baby got pressganged into acting as the getaway driver for Kevin Spacey’s Doc after Baby stole something from him. It turned out that Baby was good at his job. He commands a vehicle as Edgar Wright would command a film. Even so, there’s barely anything there for me to chew on. The other characters are far more interesting. You have Jon Hamm’s Buddy as the suave and cool bandit with a beautiful girlfriend, Darling as portrayed by Eiza González. Then you have Bats, played by Jamie Foxx. I didn’t think Foxx had it in him again. After Sleepless and the Amazing Spider-Man 2, you begin to wonder why he won an Oscar. Then he does this film and commands the scene as Baby would command a car. Bats was unpredictable, smart, and violent. Like a black Joker (I want Jamie Foxx to be Joker now). When Bats is on screen, the tension rises and gets your heart pumping to the movie’s beat.
That is where the film excels. Almost every movement, car crash, or gunshot is set to the soundtrack that I never really connected with. It’s an interesting gimmick that Wright toyed with in his previous movies, the most memorable being Shaun of the Dead’s bar fight set to Queen. The gimmick has an in-universe explanation: Baby requires music to drown out tinnitus he got from an accident when he was younger. Interestingly, the gimmick never gets old. In fact, I think it adds to the gunfights (Tequila!). It must have been horrendous getting the timing down for the choreography. It’s almost Jackie Chan like.
Unfortunately, some of the action is mired by quick cuts. I want to see Baby actually driving. Seeing several cuts for a car crash is way too much. I want to see every excruciating detail in one go rather than a shot for this part and a shot for that part quickly stitched together. The car chases themselves are alright. Don’t expect Ronin.
Baby Driver is a competent film that doesn’t hit the mark for me. A better main character and better editing would have elevated the film. Hopefully, I hope this turns out like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.