Baby Driver Review: An Exhilarating and Unique Action Film
Baby Driver is a kind of film that I wish I saw more often. It’s funny, but it never sacrifices drama; it’s action-packed, but it never sacrifices character. The action is eye-popping yet it still manages to feel grounded. It is the most fun I have had so far this summer, and it only cost $34 million to make. The film proves you don’t need hundreds of millions to dollars to make audiences’ jaws drop, and that sometimes, a film can be better for it.
Baby Driver is the story of a young man named Baby, who drives criminals away from their heists while listening to music. Despite his age and unassuming appearance, Baby is the most capable driver anyone has ever seen and manages to escort the thieves to safety every time.
Describing the tone of Baby Driver is a difficult task, as it is unlike most action films that hit cinema screens. The best I can describe it as a cross between Guardians of the Galaxy and Goodfellas: cassette tapes and exciting music are commonplace, but there is a dark and uneasy story at the heart of the picture.
This unusual tone, along with the colorful and violent imagery from director Edgar Wright, creates a film that is distinct from other action movies.
And the visuals of this film must be praised. Edgar Wright has crafted some of the most intense, invigorating, and entertaining car chases I have ever seen. It isn’t only that the cars are fast and that bullets fly, but so much of the fun in these scenes is watching Baby figure out how to escape.
If Sherlock Holmes was a get-away driver, this is how he would drive. Baby manages to outsmart and outpace his pursuers at every turn, all while making impossible turns and having lightning fast reactions.
On top of all of that, since Baby listens to music as he drives, many of the action set-pieces feel like musicals. The characters never burst into song, but certain moments in the action move in harmony with the rhythm of the music.
When Edgar Wright threw all of this together, he ended up crafting some of the best action that I have seen this year.
And that is before you mention that nearly all of those scenes were done in camera, meaning without computer generated imagery or other special-effects. Darrin Prescot, a stunt coordinator who worked on this film, stated that they tried to do “everything in camera; [and that] 99 percent was practical”.
Fortunately, unlike other summer action films, Baby Driver has a script which can match its visuals. The story of Baby Driver is depressing at its core, and managed to grip me emotionally. I won’t go into it here for fear of spoiling the experience, but just know that this film’s spectacle doesn’t weaken its characters.
With one exception.
My one key flaw with Baby Driver is that Baby’s love interest, Debora, makes extremely rash decisions towards the end of the film. The actors who portray Baby and Debora, Ansel Elgort and Lily James, have visible chemistry and a believable romance, but Debora doesn’t quite get the attention she requires.
The character is so head-over-heels for Baby that she decides to risk major consequences by following him, but since the two haven’t known each other long her choices feel abrupt and unrealistic.
I praise the film for establishing believable chemistry, but since the bond was more about romantic flare than deep, meaningful connections I couldn’t buy the choices that come towards the end.
But all in all, Baby Driver is a fantastic action film that proves you don’t need 200 million dollars to leave an audience in awe. This movie cost around 15% of what Transformers: The Last Knight cost to produce, and yet I lost count of how many times my jaw dropped.
It has grossed around $30 million in its first five days, and has already out-grossed nearly every other Wright production in the domestic box office. It may not be as massive as some of the upcoming blockbusters, but it is encouraging to see more people taking an interest in Wright’s work. And considering Transformers: The Last Knight has grossed just $17 million in its second weekend (I often try to stay professional, but WOOHOO!), that’s just another bit of good news.