Summer is here, which also means the summer blockbusters are here. I’ll admit it takes a lot for me to get excited about a film (and this from a girl who used to watch every Twilight movie on its opening night) but summer 2017 is coming up strong with the likes of Dunkirk, Wonder Woman and, the subject of today’s review, Baby Driver.
When I first saw the trailer for Baby Driver a few months ago, I wasn’t overly keen. The title sounds like an animated film about a literal driving baby, and, having only seen leading man Ansel Elgort in cry-fest The Fault in Our Stars, I wasn’t entirely convinced he could pull off an action film. However, when it came out, my Twitter feed was inundated with praise for the film, which intrigued me. I finally got a chance to watch the film for myself this week, and can confirm that, if you’re looking for something to watch, Baby Driver is definitely one to check out.
“In a world full of Marvel movies, remakes and predictable plots, it’s rare to find a film that is fresh or different anymore.”
The reason that Baby Driver will stand out in this summer’s list of blockbuster is the same reason why I never really get excited about films anymore. In a world full of Marvel movies, remakes and predictable plots, it’s rare to find a film that is fresh or different anymore – but Baby Driver is. The principal of an action film based around a getaway driver itself isn’t any too novel, but the way the story is told is what makes it unique. Having been directed by Edgar Wright, he of Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs the World fame, it’s to be expected that Baby Driver won’t be a conventional action film, with the film instead offering a humorous and quirky take.
It’s perhaps incorrect to call the film ‘action’ anyway: Wright himself has described it as “kind of like of a musical”, and, as strange as that may sound, it’s kind of accurate. It’s not a musical in the sense that everyone bursts into happy song while walking down the street, but it heavily relies on an outstanding soundtrack to tell its story. The idea of having the central character suffering from tinnitus seems entirely obscure in reference to the action genre, but Wright incorporates this into the film as a perfectly plausible reason for Baby to continuously listening to music, with the story behind both Baby’s condition and love of music beautifully tying together the two seemingly alien genres of ‘action’ and ‘musical’. Of course, the upside of having Baby engrossed in music also means we get some amazingly scored, high-adrenaline car and foot chases, as well as some solid pop-culture references. Furthermore, the soundtrack for the film can’t be faulted: there’s a reason why the soundtrack CD boasts 30 tracks rather than the standard 20.
“’m not a fan of typical action, because it is so often predictable, but the character of Baby offers a welcome diversion from this by marking the era of a new kind of action hero”.
Another reason that Baby Driver stands out is the cast. Despite the reservations I explained earlier, Ansel Elgort is superb in his role as Baby: it’s clear to see that he loves music just as much as his character, making for some great lip-syncing scenes. He stands out as a likeable protagonist, with the perfect balance of geekiness and coolness. I’m not a fan of typical action, because it is so often predictable, but the character of Baby offers a welcome diversion from this by marking the era of a new kind of action hero. The supporting cast and characters also keep the film strong: Lily James, a relative newcomer to the film world, does a great job as love interest Deborah, while Jamie Foxx offers a brilliant turn as through-and-through criminal Bats. Kevin Spacey is also back to his best in the film, with a hard-to-suss-out character, though I found it very hard to hear him speaking without his House of Cards southern drawl. It’s also worth looking out for CJ Jones as Baby’s stepfather Joe: in a world where able-bodied actors are so often cast in disabled roles, it’s nice to see a deaf role actually fulfilled by a deaf actor.
My one and only fault with the film would be at the very end, when the film culminates in a match to the death between Baby and Jon Hamm’s character. It’s here the film becomes a little too action for its own good, and it seems to take too long to reach its conclusion. That said, it’s still a well-put together action sequence, though it would have been nice to see a different angle taken to conclude the film. Luckily, it redeems itself with a happy ending in which we see Baby’s real personality rather than his ‘getaway driver’ persona serve him – and, perhaps for the first time in action film history, justice is actually served, whether we like it or not.
Overall, Baby Driver is a strong contender for the film of the summer, and perhaps the year (particularly depending on how well Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk fares). If you’re looking for a film you haven’t seen anything like before and one that will keep you entertained for its entirety, then Baby Driver is surely one to watch – even if you aren’t much of an action fan.