Saturday, July 15, 2017

B-A-B-Y: Sky's Review of Baby Driver

In a world of summer blockbusters and popcorn flicks, Baby Driver would be easy to mistake as yet another car chase action film. That’s certainly what I thought it was when I saw the trailer. I wasn’t deterred--it had a star-studded cast, including Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Lily James, Jon Hamm, and my personal favorite, Jon Bernthal. Plus, I’m always down for a good action flick. I saw, however, some reviews online saying that this movie was better than the trailers indicated and that this movie was pure artistry. So, of course, I was intrigued. Baby Driver did not let me down.

I should preface this by saying I’m not as huge a film buff as I would like to be, and I haven’t seen any of Edgar Wright’s main films (sadly, Ant-Man doesn’t count). I also went into Baby Driver with absolutely no knowledge and an open mind, which is definitely how I recommend everyone go into this movie.

Baby Driver focuses on the titular character Baby, a getaway driver with a penchant for music. And music is one thing that this movie has going for it. In fact, Baby Driver would not be the same without the music. Its soundtrack is one of the best I’ve seen, tied only with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. (After both of those movies, I immediately looked up the soundtracks and loaded them into my Spotify.) The movie starts out with the song “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, which is what inspired Edgar Wright for this film in the first place, and it just keeps rolling from there. For most movies, the soundtrack is added after the film is shot, but this film was made around the music, and it definitely shows. The soundtrack is woven seamlessly throughout the film, and the sound effects even add the percussion in some scenes, which is my jam. I absolutely adored it.

My other favorite aspect of Baby Driver is its main character, Baby himself. Movies about criminals can be tough to pull off, but Wright does it by making Baby the purest cinnamon roll you’ve ever seen. Additionally, Lily James is golden in this film with her sweet-with-an-edge portrayal of Debora, who gets her chance to shine with equal levels of innocence and badassery. Even the criminals aren’t caricatures; they are completely, unabashedly human, and they embrace humanity in all its glory. This film tackles the dark underbelly of crime by adding layers to its characterization, by utilizing the gray instead of just pure black and white. It pays off. Baby Driver is a deliciously fascinating character study set to electrifying beats and heart-pounding action scenes.

That brings me to the more obvious focus of the movie: the cars. Baby Driver is a car-chase movie, yes, but it’s one with a lot of heart. That doesn’t mean that the car chases get overshadowed, however. They’re some of the best parts of the movie, and they’re expertly well done. Each one of them is different, taking place in different locations, and of course, the music adds a different flavor to each one. And even when a scene doesn’t involve a car, the tension is kept at an all-time high throughout the whole thing. This movie kept me on the edge of the seat until the screen turned to black.

And yet, with all the tension, Baby Driver is hilarious. It has perfectly timed comedic moments that help ease the breakneck speed and make this movie more lighthearted. These moments help this movie live up to being a summer blockbuster, and they make the movie so much more enjoyable.

And now for the less fun part of this review. Baby Driver isn’t perfect. Despite its star-studded cast, most of them were white. It’s an unfortunate example of the inequality that still exists. While Jamie Foxx is an amazing part of this movie and absolutely should not be discredited, movies can have more than one person of color in their cast. (I can’t believe I have to even say this.) We can do better than this, Hollywood.

And a disclaimer: Baby Driver definitely lives up to its R-rating with language and violence. While this wasn’t a problem for me, it’s something to be aware of if that’s something that would bother you. (And in my opinion, the good things about Baby Driver are worth the more mature aspects.)

I’m a firm believer that you can love something while seeing its flaws. Baby Driver is a rare gem in a sea of easily forgettable films. It’s a reminder that film can be art--in fact, art is what film is meant to be. It’s a reminder of the heights that film can achieve. It’s a reminder of humanity in all its beautiful brokenness.

And, the best part is, amidst all of that, it’s just plain fun.


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