Baby Driver (2017) – Film Review

The opening to Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” feels a bit braggadocios, a bit indulgent, and a bit too similar to a recent Apple commercial. All in one take, the opening tracking shot follows our main character, Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, as he walks freely through the streets, crossing roads, passing murals, and avoiding bystanders. Each set piece he walks by correlates with the words in the song he’s listening to with his signature earbuds, always at hand and usually blaring full volume.

It’s a clever opening, though very self-referential: “Shaun of the Dead” featured one of the greatest one take tracking shots ever with Simon Pegg’s character bumbling through his town, ignorant of the blood and zombies surrounding him as he yawns his way through the vacant streets. The movie slows down a bit after the opening street dance/music video, getting into the reality of Baby’s life as a getaway driver for low-life, high-stake criminals.


The leader of the operation is Doc, played smugly by Kevin Spacey. Jamie Foxx plays the confrontational character, even having a line in the movie commenting about the crazy position being filled already, by him. Jon Hamm plays a more sedated role as Buddy, another member of the crew; he wants to get the job done and get out of town with his girlfriend as soon as possible.

Baby drives as a result of a traumatic childhood experience involving a car wreck and the death of his mother. He has permanent ringing issues in his ears as a result of the accident, hence the constant music. The soundtrack is the lifeblood of the movie: the characters question it constantly, but when the music starts, Baby switches gears and turns into an 11th grade version of Ryan Gosling in “Drive”. He’s slick and intelligent, knowing the routes by heart, able to intuitively escape from seemingly inescapable scenarios.

Lily James plays Deborah, a young girl that works as a waitress at the diner where Baby’s mother used to wait tables. He’s a regular at the diner and soon garners her attention with a few of his songs and some friendly conversation. They have a runaway vibe throughout, though their relationship can’t be entirely filled out due to his responsibilities to Doc as the whiz-kid driver.

The movie has a lot of heart and clearly a lot of passion for the art of fast-speed driving. The coordination that had to happen to clear the roads and perform the spinning, sliding car donuts must have been exhausting. “Baby Driver” is an exhilarating chase movie made by one of the most inventive action directors of the decade.

Drive – Film Review

Ryan Gosling stars at the Driver, a quiet and existentially mysterious character who never questions his actions; he swerves from oncoming cars, hides behind trucks in the dead of night, and takes criminals he has never met and takes them to a safe-house at the conclusion of their heist. He is, iconically, a Travis Brickle character for the mob, although Travis seems narcissistic in comparison.

The Driver does not only do the night-gig, he also is a driver for Hollywood. A metaphor for living in someone elses life, the thief’s, he wears a wax mask and plummets through set pieces, flipping his car upside down for the shot. When he meets a girl, he finds a purpose, in more than one way. The film is brilliantly lit in the backdrop of its illuminated city and fast cars, and Gosling does a fine job for having the camera set on his face for the majority of the time; it gets tiring and makes it difficult for Driver to have any sort of cult-following, his face with a toothpick is the poster-boy image of the whole film.

Their are moments of shock in the film that should not go unappraised; its suddenness in action, from quiet scenes of inner thought, to barrels being blown, mixes for a strange and all the more interesting conflict. We do not know The Driver, but nonetheless find a connection, even though he shows no uproarious emotion from the girl he meets, (Carey Mulligan) to make the audience cry out of joy and happiness, what a poor movie would indulge in. In a sense, The Driver always wears a mask, and by being a driver and quiet onlooker, he seems to like to indulge in voyeurism.

The film blends great acting, visceral action, and visual panic to create a stirring, contemplative film. The villian, or avenger, played by Ron Perlman, is appropriately esteemed by his own figure and nastiness, and Perlman plays him in a very appropriate, albeit niche, manner. The film succeeds for the people who accept it what is is: A tense, contemplative heist-genre film with a crew of fine performances and casting.