Finally! A good summer blockbuster!
Baby Driver (2017): After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.
What a fun film. Baby Driver is the latest from the fantastic director Edgar Wright, a man with some of the funniest comedies of the modern era under his belt, including Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. Each of these films has a very recognizable fingerprint that makes it an Edgar Wright film. Despite the fact that this film is not a comedy, (it's actually the first foray into a drama for the director) it’s still another classic Edgar Wright film. Somehow, the man can do no wrong. He produces what is easily the best film of 2017 so far, and certainly the best summer blockbuster of recent memories. This film could not come at a better time. We've had a terrible summer blockbuster season so far, so it is really refreshing to see a film be original and actually try and push the envelope. Were it not for some faults in the third act from a storytelling perspective, this film would score a perfect 10 in my book. But this film, like other Edgar Wright films, is a wonderful reminder of what happens when a filmmaker actually uses the entire spectrum of cinema to tell a story.
I’ve long appreciated his visual style, as he’s basically the only director of modern American comedies outside of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (of 21 Jump Street fame) to actually employ visual humor and not have his films essentially be lightly edited improv. Here his visual storytelling style comes out in the music. The music of Baby Driver is the calling card here, as Edgar Wright does a marvelous job not just employing effective musical choices for any given moment of his film, but also syncing up his film to the music thanks to some fantastic editing. Everything from car doors closing to gunshots are done to the beat of whatever song is playing at that moment, and it was really fascinating (and fun) to watch. I honestly would not be surprised at all to see this film be nominated for Best Editing come Oscar time next year. Outside of the fantastic editing were some great visuals. Edgar Wright has clearly watched a lot of heist films, and he’s picked up on how to shoot them effectively. The car chases in this film are some of the best sequences I’ve seen in recent memory, and even give The Fast and the Furious a run for its money. Additionally, the acting in this movie is awesome. Ansel Eigort puts in a great performance as the lead, playing a wide range of emotions from start to finish as the quite and reserved Baby. Kevin Spacey is Kevin Spacey (and there’s nothing wrong with that) and Jamie Foxx was over-the-top. However, for me the two that steal the show are Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez. They play husband and wife in this film and are menacing and unpredictable. I absolutely loved them. Lily James was fine, but her character was also the reason this film does not receive a perfect score.
So, let’s talk about the story briefly, shall we? While overall we have a strong story here, there are definitely problems as well. Most notably, the character played by Lily James. The scenes between Ansel Eigort and Lily James were fine, but they also slowed down the film tremendously. I think Edgar Wright realized this and left several scenes between the two of them on the cutting room floor, however the unintended side effect of doing this was the actions of James at the end of the film weren't earned at all. One second she's a waitress, the next she's risking her life for a person she just met a few days ago? I really have no idea what they could've done to improve this as Wright was definitely stuck between a rock and a hard place, but it doesn't change the fact that this is the weakest part of the film. Fortunately, though, this is just about the only misstep here, and doesn't detract from the overall viewing experience that much. I'd say this is the first true "must-watch" film of 2017, and it is easily the best film of the year so far. See it with confidence.
The Critique: Baby Driver is a marvelously executed summer blockbuster with exhilarating action sequences and few faults.
The Recommendation: A must-see for everyone. Don't miss it!
The Verdict: 9/10 Awesome
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