The other day, after putting it off for a long time, I finally watched the movie Baby Driver. Overall I really enjoyed it and feel it was one of the better movies I’ve seen all year. This movie had a bunch of strong points that I wanted to highlight.
The dialogue in this movie is like poetry. Every line feels intentional and well crafted. Of course I can’t think of an example off the top of my head, but there was sense of wit about a bunch of the lines. To be clear, a lot was over the top. It’s not that the dialogue felt realistic, almost the opposite.
It felt so over the top as if each character had had the perfect amount of time to think about what they were going to say and then said it. In some movies this might come off as annoying or fake but in this movie, stylistically, it fit.
It was obvious and undeniable even from the trailer that music was going to play a huge role in this movie. Because the main character has ear buds in a good deal of the time, we get to experience his mood and feelings through the music he’s listening to. A decent amount of the music were songs with which I was unfamiliar. Regardless, it added for a great tone throughout the movie.
I wouldn’t doubt that when Edgar was writing this movie (see what I did there), he had a lot, if not all of these songs in mind and said to himself, “Now how do I craft a scene around this song?” If I’m correct in this assumption, it would mean that his writing style is very similar to mine.
Music is often times, if not always, the backbone of the several screenplays I’ve attempted to write. The inspiration for many an opening or closing sequence to a potential movie I would make comes from either the feeling I get from a song or from the lyrics itself. It seems to me Edgar has done a similar, if not the exact same thing.
Sidenote: the bit where Baby actually makes music from the recordings he has is totally dope and is another great use of music.
Essentially, the first 20 minutes of this movie is a series of music videos. None more obvious than the sequence after the first car chase, a music video in it’s own right, when Baby is going to get coffee for the crew.
Everything down from the way he moves through the scene, unabashedly walk/dancing, but also the fact that there is blatant graffiti which he encounters along the way with key lyrics from the song -Harlem Shuffle- which is playing in his ear buds.
To top it off, if memory serves, this entire sequence from when he exits the building, walks down the street, crosses the street, goes into the coffee shop, orders the coffee, leaves the coffee shop, goes back across the street and re-enters the building he started in, is all one continuous shot. If I’m correct about this being a long continuous shot, it makes this already visually impressive sequence that much more impressive.
Sidenote: the sequence where Baby makes lunch for his foster father is another great use of choreography.
In addition to the aforementioned continuous shot for the Harlem Shuffle sequence, the editing throughout this movie is very intentional and obvious, but well done. Typically, editing is the invisible art of movie making. If you’re not paying attention to the cuts and transitions from scene to scene (or even the cuts within scenes for that matter) the editor has done their job correctly.
In this movie however, oftentimes cuts are made blatantly to disrupt a scene in order to slide the audience into the next one. Some of these cuts become a part of the overarching character of the movie itself.
The only other movie that immediately comes to mind with regard to this stylistic editing is Pan’s Labyrinth. Both movies (as well as many others, but for whatever reason, these ones in particular) use objects in the scene -cars, reflections, animate and inanimate objects- as focal points to move the audience into the next scene. It’s a really cool stylistic choice that fits with this movie.
Honestly, there is really only one very specific thing I wanted to highlight. The first time they are in the elevator on the way down to the parking garage; the way Kevin Spacey’s character gets out of the way for one of the robbers as he exits the elevator is done so intentionally that it stands out.
However, again, as is the case with most of the things I’ll mention in this “review,” it stands out in a good way. I have to imagine this comes down to the direction that was given to him and not just a choice that the actor made on his own.
The story of this movie I felt, overall, was very good. The first two acts were very strong but it lost me a bit in the third act; we’ll get to that later. This I think is the movie that a lot of people thought they were going to see when they saw the movie Drive, rather than the brooding drama they actually got.
Interestingly, this is what initially turned me off about Drive. It looked like another crappy Fast and the Furious movie (I will say I like the first and the second ones) and I was not into it. However, after I was essentially forced to watch Drive and found out that it was a serious drama in which driving only plays a small role, I was on board and ended up really liking it.
I was nervous Baby Driver might be just another pop corn movie. Something thoughtless like the countless superhero movies we are being inundated with lately that only requires you to have a pulse in order to go see them.
However, though it certainly is more “poppy” than the Drives of the world, it manages to also maintain enough substance to hold my attention on a deeper level. It does a pretty good job of walking the line between “Pop Song” and “Ballad.” I would say it certainly holds it’s own with films like Gone in 60 Seconds and The Transporter, two other movies that, at least in my opinion, are some of the best “wheel man” movies of our time.
As I said at the beginning of this section, the biggest and only real “problem” I have with this movie is the third act. I get that there needs to be conflict in a movie in order to make it interesting, I just felt that the execution was not up to par with the rest of the movie.
The actual events that we see happen seemed a bit too “Hollywood action movie” for me. This was one of the things I was afraid of going into it. Things start to go really off the rails. We get a lot of explosions and more violence than we’d seen throughout the rest of the movie and even the characters, specifically Baby, start to act in ways that they hadn’t before in the hour and a half of the movie.
It took, what I felt was, too strong of a tonal shift. Baby goes from a cool, calm subtle character to one who totes a gun, shoots people and is almost manic. I realize that a lot is happening to him and the people he loves, but it seemed it could have been handled in a more delicate way.
Granted he’s just a kid, he’s not some James Bond character who’s trained to plan and strategize and infiltrate the enemies lair so to speak. But it just seemed out of character for him, and the movie for that matter, to suddenly go off the rails the way it does.
Notes for Edgar
Though this may be cliché (as are likely the rest of my suggestions), I thought it would have been cool if Kevin Spacey’s character made good on his threat and actually kidnapped Debrah. It would have made for a great final standoff between these two characters. I there standoff he would say something like:
“You don’t just get to walk away from this. I gave you everything and this is how you repay me!?”
It seemed odd to me that instead, Kevin Spacey’s character grows a conscience and actually helps them to escape by killing the cops.
I thought it would have been cool if at one point Deborah finds out what Baby is doing for a living and decides to break up with him. This would allow for him to come in at the end and save her, therefore redeeming himself and causing her to fall back in love with him.
I also thought it would have been interesting if Buddy and his wife were actually undercover cops that helped Baby to “infiltrate the enemies lair” in my re-written ending to this movie.
Honestly though, that was my only gripe with this movie. As I said at the beginning, overall I thought it was very good and highly reccomend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.
—Movies I’ve seen this year (in no order)
Alien Covenant, It Comes At Night, Spiderman Homecoming, Dunkirk*, Passengers, The Founder*, My Neighbor Totoro, Nocturnal Animals, The Incredible Jessica James*, Nina Simone documentary (DNF), Wonder Woman, The Big Sick*, Mother!*, Steven Spielberg documentary, Blade Runner 2049, Beyond The Black Rainbow, Jigsaw (I got to use MoviePass), Jim and Andy and the Great Beyond*, Lady Bird (MoviePass), Man on the Moon*
Tarzan, Helvetica, Truth in 24, Catch Me If You Can, Minimalism, Chicago, Moonrise Kingdom, Wolf of Wall Street, James Bond movies, Hercules, Her, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Hocus Pocus, Nightmare Before Christmas