Sunday, July 2, 2017

Baby Driver - Movie Review

The Movie: Baby Driver

The Director: Edgar Wright (The World's End)

The Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, Sky Ferreira, Viviana Chavez

The Story: After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

The Review:
This movie is being hyped up to no end with a lot of people talking about how original and creative it is because it's not a sequel or a comic book movie. Well ,just because something isn't one of those two things doesn't automatically mean it's original. The story is pretty basic, just told in an oddly unique way. Director Edgar Wright adds a Broadway style musical element to the beginning of the film with some nicely choreographed bits and pieces which is kind of fun although how he uses the this in the rest of the film is just matching gunfire to beats and guitar riffs. And that's pretty much where the originality ends.

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film for what it was, but I wasn't doing cartwheels or putting it into my favorite films of all time list by any means. To be honest, it won't even end up making my ten best films of this year but still, it's a very entertaining crime thriller that does what it sets out to do by combining a well traveled love story with a Heat style shoot em up, car chase movie. The stunt work in this movie is pretty fantastic and the people responsible for the car chase action should all get a major round of high fives.

One of the more disappointing things about the movie is the near stereotypical type casting used to fill out the roster of criminals for the movie. We have the young Caucasian male who is seen as smarter, more athletic, and even more artistically gifted than anyone else in the film. We have the standard damsel in distress/love interest who provides nothing of value other than being those two things. There is the crazy, loud mouthed black man who is known for killing anyone he's ever met. And finally we have the Latina female who we learn that she used to be a stripper because of course she was, at least until the former Wall Street heavy hitter turned criminal rescued her from herself and helped to (insert sarcastic tone) upgrade her status to gun toting, hot tempered, love interest. For a film getting constant kudos for originality, those are all some pretty well worn and out dated tropes in my opinion.

As far as the acting, Ansel Elgort, as the star, really isn't given much of an opportunity to do much. His character is known as someone who doesn't talk much so he spends most of the time with a blank look on his face no matter whether he is sitting, standing, driving, running, or whatever else he might be doing. Still, he is just charming enough to justify having the lead role, but doesn't do nearly enough to elevate the character into any type of memorable status. On the flip side of that Lily James continues to impress and she is quickly becoming one of the marquee stars of her generation. She absolutely lights up the screen and takes over any scene she is involved with, it's just a shame she didn't really gave that much to do. One of my favorite performances in the movie is turned in by Jon Bernthal although he is only appears in the early portions of the film.

The Verdict:
Baby Driver is a fun film that has some original elements to but also depends on a lot of the same tricks and tropes we have seen in this type of movie before. It's basically an interesting mix of Smokey and the Bandit, Heat, and Drive all wrapped into an odd musical style that will remind you of Tarantino, but will also remind you of just how good Tarantino is compared to anyone else.

By the way, my favorite song on the hyped up soundtrack is easily "Know How" by Young MC. I used to play that song more than "Bust a Move" back when Marvin Young was kind of a big deal. I dare you to try and not at least tap your foot in the theater when it starts playing.

Fun fact: Singer Paul Williams, who has a small role in this film, played Little Enos in the aforementioned Smokey and the Bandit movies.

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