'Baby Driver' review: Love at first beat
Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver doesn’t wait too long to show what it is all about.
As soon as the ragtag team of bank robbers alights from his glaringly crimson Subaru, Baby (Ansel Elgort) plays Bellbottoms from his iPod. He starts to tap his fingers, matching the infectious rhythm of the alt-rock anthem, and later on, has the windshield wipers join in the fun while he apes the cool swagger of an electric guitar player.
His comrades quickly return, naturally chased by an army of guards and coppers. Coolly and seamlessly following the beats and melodies of the famous The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion song, Baby speeds away from the scene of the crime, slivering through narrow alleys and swinging via busy highways until they end up inside a secluded parking building where they’ll eventually split the spoils of their excitingly illicit adventure.
A spectacular opening
Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver isn’t exactly the most original story this year.
Its core narrative of a crook with a heart of gold and a taste for good music trying his very best to lead a straight life has been told so many times. The characters are all very familiar, seemingly just reiterations of archetypes that have populated similar stories from the past.
There’s Debora (Lily James), the luminous diner waitress who adds fuel to Baby’s quest to get out of the crime world. There’s Doc (Kevin Spacey), the all-knowing mob boss who treats Baby like a valuable protégé. There are also the band of robbers Baby gets to work with, headlined by thugs of varying degrees of insanity starting with Bats (Jamie Foxx), whose blood-red outfits reflect his propensity for rage, and Buddy (Jon Hamm), whose uncharacteristic friendliness towards Baby echoes something more sinister.
While the narrative follows a predictable trajectory, one that adheres to classic structures, it doesn’t get bogged down with any feelings of being repetitive or redundant. Wright installs very vital flourishes, detailing all of his characters with quirks, virtues and vices that add color to the already colorful feature.
Heart on its sleeve
The film wears its heart on its sleeve. It doesn’t hide the fact that aside from the outward coolness it so fluently portrays, it is also very sentimental, which in this case only makes the entire viewing experience an unhindered pleasure. It begs its audience to root for Baby, to cheer for his beleaguered romance with Debora, and to get equally conflicted when Baby is forced to choose between love and the unlawful life he has gotten used to living.
What separates Baby Driver from all the other films that has tackled romances conflicted crime by is the way Wright has fashioned a captivating showcase of cinematic wizardry.
From its first frame to the last, it never lets go of an escalating pulse that gives it such an affecting exuberance. It doesn’t matter that one knows where the story is getting it since Wright has made the journey such a delightful ride. This is a film where rhythm isn’t a mere concept. Music is vital and does not only function as a backdrop for the action but as the action itself, the driving force for all the emotions and thrills the film strives for.
Everything works. Baby Driver is quite close to perfection, at least in the sense of all of its seemingly disparate elements seamlessly marrying to result in such a joyous crowd-pleaser.
Simply put, this is love at first beat. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.