Review: BABY DRIVER (2017) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Review: BABY DRIVER (2017)

Music is a must for Baby (Ansel Elgort) in BABY DRIVER (2017)

BABY DRIVER revolves around a talented getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort), who uses music to relieve his tinnitus. His crime boss, Doc (Kevin Spacey) considers him as a valuable asset for his heist business. Trouble arises when Baby starts dating a local waitress named Debora (Lily James) and being threatened to continue working with Doc, even after he has paid his dues.

REVIEW: At the time of writing, BABY DRIVER has already earned its near-universal praises when the movie opened last month in the US. But here lies the biggest question: is the movie really that good?

(L-R) Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Eiza González and Jon Hamm in BABY DRIVER (2017)

Personally, I love Edgar Wright's movies in the past. He sure knows how to incorporate different genres in his works, particularly the way he did in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ and THE WORLD'S END). In BABY DRIVER, his first directorial effort in four years since THE WORLD'S END, he has once again proven his worth as an accomplished genre stylist. At least, look no further than the first two scenes. The movie kicks off in high gear with a cool opening scene where Baby sits in a car listening to the rock 'n' roll tune of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's "Bellbottoms". It was fun to see the way he got so hooked on the song as he lip-syncs and tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. Then comes the getaway. The first car chase sequence is cleverly synchronised with the pumped-up rhythm of the song, as Baby zips across the city streets and freeways while evading police cars. It was no doubt a bravura set piece that also showcased Wright's deft skill as an action director. Best of all, that scene alone is brilliantly staged using old-school stunt with no CGI.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) confronts Doc (Kevin Spacey) in BABY DRIVER (2017)

Then, the movie follows up with another noteworthy scene. This time, the ensuing song is Bob & Earl's groovy "Harlem Shuffle". As the opening credits appear on the screen, we get to see Baby walking out of the building to grab some takeaway coffees. What's even more interesting is the use of a long tracking shot for the walking scene.

Unfortunately, what happens over the next remaining length of the movie pales in comparison with the first two scenes. From here, it looks as if Wright has running out of fresh or more exciting ideas to sustain the momentum. Sure, there are worthwhile moments such as the amusing scene where Baby recorded Doc's conversations and remixes them into a song, and the first meet-cute scenario with Debora in the diner. Too bad, those moments are few and far between. Instead, the movie grows erratic once it tries to establish its main plot as well as Baby's backstory and his ongoing romance with Debora. Even Wright's gradual tonal shift from a fun-filled chase and heist movie to a violent crime genre is both patchy and curiously hollow.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) and Debora (Lily James) gets romantic in BABY DRIVER (2017)

As for the cast, Ansel Elgort brings enough charisma to his lead role as Baby. The supporting cast is equally engaging with special mentions go to Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Lily James and Jamie Foxx.

Although the movie does recover from its middling midsection with a few eclectic soundtrack and a brutal final confrontation in a parking lot, BABY DRIVER is far from an ultra-cool movie that it wants to be. No doubt this is the kind of movie that could have reached to its fullest potential.

Edgar Wright's loving nods to musical, car chase and heist genres get off to a promising start in BABY DRIVER, before the movie shifts gear across an uneven route.

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