Review for Baby Driver
For some reason (probably Kevin Spacey), the film Baby Driver just wasn’t on my radar. You’d think that catching up with Spaced and the Cornetto trilogy the previous year might have put it on my radar, as it too is also directed by Edgar Wright, but that wasn’t what brought it to my attention. This past year of lockdown has also really opened up Youtube to me as a time-sink that doesn’t add too many calories, or kill too many brain cells. And in my preferred interests of retro tech, science, cars and movies, a lot of Youtube suggestions would keep on throwing up clips of Baby Driver. A modern action movie with minimal CGI and a whole lot of driving stunts done for real, with a cool soundtrack... That eventually twisted my arm.
Baby is a savant of a getaway driver, a veritable Dali of driving. When he was a kid, an accident left him with permanent tinnitus, and he deals with it with a permanent playlist, a collection of iPods that feed music to him at all times, and he lives his life to the beat. But he stole the wrong car ten years previously, and has since been indentured to Doc, a criminal mastermind who puts together the perfect crews to pull off the perfect heists, and with Baby as his permanent driver, he’s a lucky charm.
Baby is about to pull his last job though, and pay off his debt to Doc, which means the chance at a real life. And he’s met the perfect girl too, a waitress named Debora, who appreciates fine music as much as he does. And Doc shows up again, with another job, and as he tells Baby, now that he’s out of debt, he can earn some real money. And in this line of work, with this kind of co-worker, refusal isn’t an option.
Baby Driver gets a 2.39:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc, and with plenty of audio options; DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English and Spanish, DD 2.0 Surround English, DD 5.1 Surround English Audio Descriptive, Czech, Hungarian, and Polish Voiceover with subtitles in these languages and Arabic, Croatian, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovene, Slovak, and Turkish. The film looks fantastic on Blu-ray, clear and sharp, with rich consistent colour, and excellent detail. The colour timing gives the film a stylish feel without ever getting out of hand and obviously tinted, while cool editing really brings the action to life. And for once, the editing works hand in glove with the audio design, especially the music, which is Baby’s soundtrack to life. The film is choreographed to the soundtrack, from Baby’s point of view, to the extent of having the whine of tinnitus present during the film’s rarer quiet moments. The action really comes across well, and the surround is wholly immersive.
You get one disc in a BD Amaray, which autoplays trailers for Spider-man Homecoming, Life and the extras after the movie before booting to an animated menu.
The disc has the following extras...
You get two commentaries, one with director Edgar Wright alone, and one with Edgar Wright & cinematographer Bill Pope.
There are eleven Extended and Deleted Scenes (20:28)
Behind the Scenes x6 (45:15)
Selected Scene Animatics x8 (35:42)
Rehearsals & Pre-Production x3 (17:03)
Mint Royale “Blue Song” Music Video (4:15)
Complete Storyboard Gallery (4 parts)
Promos and More x18 (21:10)
The previews repeat the Spider-man and Life trailers
A movie that I have a soft spot for, one of my guilty pleasures is Hudson Hawk. The title character has a quirk, a cat burglar who commits his crimes to music, singing while he works to keep in time with his partner. Those were cool scenes in the movie, little bits of cinematic chorography that make even a film as poorly received as Hudson Hawk memorable. Baby Driver is a feature film choreographed to popular music. The whole film moves to the rhythm, even gunshots go off to the beat. What’s more, Baby Driver isn’t Hudson Hawk, Baby Driver is really, really good, the best thing I have seen from director Edgar Wright.
One thing that really impresses me about Baby Driver is the action. When it comes to the car chase sequences, they are accomplished for real, with only a minimal reliance on CGI. This film has the most intense, skilful and visually arresting driving in a film that I have seen since Ronin. This film is a Mecca for stunt drivers, and showing off some serious skill without too many flashy squeals, jumps and explosions.
The story doesn’t break too much in the way of new ground, with a gang of professional thieves, relying on the skills of a getaway driver indentured to their leader. The kid wants out of this dark world, he wants a real life, and he wants a chance at love, but the dirty business keeps pulling him back. Tragedy and violence seems inevitable. There are plenty of films like this, plenty of times this kind of story has been put to celluloid, but deft writing, and brilliant characterisation and casting makes this film feel fresh and original.
That’s before you bring the music into it, the way that the action, the way the characters move, the way they speak has all been timed and choreographed to the music. Other than those little Hudson Hawk moments, I have seen nothing like Baby Driver before, and it makes the film transcendent, truly becoming its own thing. Unlike your average musical, it all makes sense in the context of the movie, as it’s the character of Baby who is carrying the soundtrack to the film in his pocket. The music is literally there as the story unfolds. The tunes are perfectly picked too, really getting the emotion and intensity of the scenes, driving the pace and reflecting the characters. I was surprised to hear just how much unfamiliar music I’m familiar with. It seems Edgar Wright chose all the tunes from the seventies that were sampled in all my favourite tunes from the eighties and nineties.
There has been nothing else like Baby Driver before, and most likely there will never be again, as any film trying this audacious trick again will only be accused of being a copycat. The Blu-ray gives great video, and even better audio, while the extra features will more than keep you busy for a while.