Written, Directed and Produced by Edgar Wright
I like to think I’m fairly familiar with the work of Edgar Wright, I first watched his work in the TV series Spaced which he directed in 2001, and just fell for his quirky, cross-cutting style. The opening scene of Spaced is excellent; the two sets of dialogue between Tim and Daisy I think has yet to be beat.
Other films include, (as writer, director or producer), Attack the Block, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim versus The World and The Worlds End.
Anyway, to Baby Driver.
This is essentially a romance story – boy meets girl, boy tries to get out of debt with criminals, boy does one last job…
Does he get the girl? Watch the film!
There is good balance of action, dialogue and drama; often directors today get so excited by new toys/technology, that they fill the screen with eye-watering action top to bottom, left to right, continuously; to the detriment of any plot there may have been. Wright tells us a story, which is how it should be, after all, movies are just another form of storytelling, and he tells it well, through the driving, through the lines;
Buddy: Is she a good girl? You love her?
Baby: Yes, I do.
Buddy: That’s too bad.
Wright has excellent timing, not only with his trademark cuts of visuals and hyper sound effects, but just when you begin to wonder if the whole film will consist of Baby dancing down the street for his coffee, he, Wright, cuts to a new rhythm, and that’s what the film has running through it – rhythm. It is excellently choreographed from start to finish; people walking, dancing, talking, counting money, placing items down on tables, cars whizzing past trucks, every last element is perfect.
Ansel Elgort (The Divergent series) is the titular Baby; he appears at turns vulnerable, cool and collected, and incredibly sweet; especially in his scenes with Debora, played by Lily James (Downton Abbey)
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) plays Doc, the brains and organiser behind each job. Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) is Bats, and he is; he claims the monopoly on the one with ‘mental problems’. Jon Hamm and Eiza González are deliciously deadly as Buddy and Darling, a couple with ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ tattoos on their necks, they stand side-by-side like Mexican anti-heroes in a Robert Rodriguez movie.
Cranked up to the max; the car chases combined with the playlist that is always playing in Baby’s ear-buds, are as balletic as any performance of Swan Lake. I imagine Wright designed and planned the furiously fast and dizzying manoeuvres as ‘car-dance’ deliberately.
Baby’s playlist –
1. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion—“Bellbottoms”
2. Bob & Earl—“Harlem Shuffle”
3. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers—“Egyptian Reggae”
4. Googie Rene—“Smokey Joe’s La La”
5. The Beach Boys—“Let’s Go Away For Awhile”
6. Carla Thomas—“B-A-B-Y”
7. Kashmere Stage Band—“Kashmere”
8. Dave Brubeck—“Unsquare Dance”
9. The Damned—“Neat Neat Neat”
10. The Commodores—“Easy (Single Version)“
11. T. Rex—“Debora”
13. Incredible Bongo Band—“Bongolia”
14. The Detroit Emeralds—“Baby Let Me Take You (in My Arms)“
15. Alexis Korner—“Early In The Morning”
16. David McCallum—“The Edge”
17. Martha and the Vandellas—“Nowhere To Run”
18. The Button Down Brass—“Tequila”
19. Sam & Dave—“When Something Is Wrong With My Baby”
20. Brenda Holloway—“Every Little Bit Hurts”
22. Focus—“Hocus Pocus (Original Single Version)“
23. Golden Earring—“Radar Love (1973 Single Edit)“
24. Barry White—“Never, Never Gone Give Ya Up”
25. Young MC—“Know How”
26. Queen—“Brighton Rock”
27. Sky Ferreira—“Easy”
28. Simon & Garfunkel—“Baby Driver”
29. Kid Koala—“Was He Slow (Credit Roll Version)”
30. Danger Mouse (featuring Run The Jewels and Big Boi)—“Chase Me”
Baby even halts a job – mid getaway – until he’s found Golden Earring’s Radar Love, before flooring a ’86 purple Chevy Caprice. Baby remains cool at all times; given his age compared to his ‘colleagues’, it’s a pretty impressive performance he puts on for them; whilst his ‘crew’ shout and panic around him to get driving, Baby won’t be pushed till he finds the right tunes.
Is Baby scared? Hell yeah, he’s got his old foster dad, Joseph, back home (CJ Jones), from whom Baby has learnt sign-language and lip reading, and he wants to keep him safe. There is an incredibly touching moment near the end when Baby is taking Joseph to safety, I admit I nearly cried – Baby’s not a bad guy really, he just got in with the wrong crowd. And inevitably, his new love Debora becomes a target in the bid to squeeze more out of Baby, whether a job or simply pain.
I take my hat off to the stunt drivers; way too many to name, but what a fantastic job!!
NB: Don’t sit too close to the screen – like we did – it’ll make your head spin as fast as the cars – my eyes were seriously challenged.