Baby Driver (2017)

Written by Cindy Banun

Baby Driver, written and directed by Edgar Wright, is an engrossing new addition to the action genre; it stands out because of its solid delivery, which is greatly assisted by the unique soundtrack which accompanies the film.

The plot follows Baby (Ansel Elgort), a music lover and forced getaway driver working for a heist mastermind, Doc (Kevin Spacey), as a consequence of one of Baby’s past, more reckless actions: Baby had stolen one of Doc’s cars, incurring a debt. In return for working for Doc, he had his share of the payoff given back to him and keeps a small share of it as funds to care for his foster father Joseph (C.J. James). He meets Debora (Lily James) at a local diner, and they start dating, despite Baby having to juggle his work for Doc while continuing to make sure Debora doesn’t find out about it. As Bats (Jamie Foxx) mentions in the movie: Baby eventually won’t be able to keep his hands clean while the rest of his heist members did the dirty parts of the job, no matter how much he wants to. This proves to be a real issue for Baby as trouble starts brewing in his life. Baby makes plans for running away with Debora, but they don’t go too well for Baby as his relationship with Debora progresses, and as he becomes tangled with more troubles.

Music is successfully implemented in the film, serving to immerse the audience into the movie’s scenes. The music used by the movie was seamlessly integrated into its scenes. During the movie, in fact, sometimes I found myself moving to the beat of the songs from time to time, the tunes were so catchy! Music was very integral to the atmosphere of several scenes. In cases when a scene starts off with a song, the song sets the tone of the scene and allows the cinematography and characters to continue to illustrate the scene and its meaning. Where a scene doesn’t start with a song, music compliments the characters’ deliveries and the camera angles utilized.

For example, in the introduction scene, where Baby is getting coffee, I really liked the way how, on the way to Doc’s headquarters, the wall that Baby passes by had graffiti with words that were in sync with the lyrics of the music playing in the background. I also liked how Baby lip-syncs to the lyrics as well. This allows the audience to have a better experience of the scene, as if they were listening through Baby’s ears. It is a fun way of starting the movie off.

The following car chase sequence in the movie kept me hooked at the edge of my seat: I was impressed by the crazy stunts involved, as well as by how harrowing Baby’s escape was, and by the speed with which the scene takes place. I am not usually one for thriller movies, but I could keep up with what’s happening on screen easily. I found that the way the scene was conveyed from various angles and shots helped the scene flow smoothly. This also helped the happenings during the scene be clear to the audience despite its fast-paced nature.

Slight spoilers ahead:

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Honestly, I was disappointed by how the ending of the movie felt like a forced, romantic, “fairy tale” style ending.  A montage was used to quickly showcase the span of 25 years to skip to tell the story of how, after those 25 years, love prevails for both Baby’s and Debora’s characters.

Elgort, the actor who played Baby, was very good at conveying his character. Baby is not one for words (as evidenced by Baby telling Debora that their conversation was the most that he had spoken in a long time); despite this aspect of Baby’s character, Elgort is very good at emoting and is able to properly represent his character. Elgort’s strength is how expressive he is as an actor, and so, Baby’s decision-making process can be deduced easily from his facial expression. This helped Elgort effectively portray the gravity of a situation where a heist went wrong and things went haywire, although Baby’s character never had any monologues.

Debora, who at first seemed to serve as a generic love interest for Baby, turns out to play a very important role in influencing Baby’s decisions in the movie. If the two had not met, Baby would probably still be working as Doc’s getaway driver, since he does have his foster father’s safety to protect. This line, said by Debora when the two first meet, turns out to be very significant when things went awry for Baby in the movie: “All I want to do is to head west on 20 with a car I can’t afford and a plan that I don’t have. Just me and my music on the road.”

This line became Baby’s mantra to himself for his dreams and hopes, and it helped him cope with the actions of the other members of the heist which he doesn’t agree with. This is because Baby doesn’t want to hurt innocent people, and just wants to go far away from the mess of being a getaway driver.

Baby’s foster father, Joseph, was as important as Debora, Baby’s girlfriend, in the sense that his role was important to catalyse Baby’s development. It was because of Joseph that Baby continues to work as a getaway driver. However, Joseph wanted Baby to earn money through an honest job, and not dirty money obtained through unsavoury means. He cared a lot for Baby and doesn’t like the fact that Baby works as a getaway driver and hurts other people. Baby, however, interprets his job as a means to an end, to protect Joseph from the people that Baby works with.

Baby never saw other people as particularly important, compared to Joseph. Although Baby tried to make sure that no bystander is hurt during all their heists, by using methods of stealing which are different from those of his fellow heist members – who will threaten, beat or kill anyone blocking their way to what they think is rightfully theirs, all in cold blood – people were, ultimately, still hurt by all the money that was stolen from them, just in more indirect ways. Baby eventually understands that being a getaway driver makes him as bad as his fellow heist members.

At the end of the movie, Baby emerges as a man who has decided to take responsibility for his actions. He could’ve kept running away; his driving skills would have made it easy for him to do that if he’d wanted to. But he chose not to.

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In conclusion, I think Baby Driver is a work of art that stands out from other movies in the same genre, as Edgar Wright has successfully integrated music in novel ways. The movie is not restrained by the stereotypes of its genre; it is not caught up with the idea of needing to be “edgy” and “cool” just because it is an action film. It is a movie that is fun and entertaining to watch.

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