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Open scene: a car wheel pulls into frame, stopping in the middle. We cut to a hand holding an iPod, as it presses play on "Bellbottoms" by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Two heavy guitar notes play, and we cut to the Driver. He looks up. Two more notes play, another, cut, and twice more after that. We jump into full guitar, violin and drum rhythms, and everyone other than the Driver steps out of the car. We wait another minute or so, and our lovable Driver begins to sing along to the chanting of the song in his ears.
This is Baby Driver. A film driven by music. Our Driver is Baby, a kid with "a hum in the drum" who uses music to drown it out. The fun part is that all of the action is synchronised to the music in his ears. And I mean everything. In this opening scene alone, we see Baby changing gear and doing incredible maneuvers in his car in time to the guitar and drums, and just this scene sells the entire movie.
Directed by Edgar Wright, my favourite director and the genius behind Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and The Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World's End). A master of using music in fitting and well timed situations, now using it as a complete motivational force behind an entire movie. Just doing choreography for action to the beat of music for one scene is breathtaking, let alone an entire movie. He's a genius.
Let's go over the basic plot and some of the characters before jumping into some of the bigger things: A getaway driver with tinnitus who listens to music while he drives is forced into doing just one more job, when he really wants to leave and start his life with a girl called Deborah. Driven by the tunes, he has to drive or face the music.
Now let's look at characters. Our titular Baby is played by Ansel Elgort, a more Young Adult film actor finally given a chance to show his skill and dedication to a role, which he proves well here. Kevin Spacey plays Doc, a father figure to Baby, and the reason he's driving for heists in the first place. The wonderful Jon Hamm plays Buddy, a criminal who takes a liking to Baby, and his girlfriend Darling played by Eiza Gonzalez. Jamie Foxx plays Bats, another criminal but this one is much more sinister and messed up than the other members of the crew. Finally, there's the love interest Deborah, played by Lily James, a waitress at a diner who lives on the same wavelength and rhythm as Baby, revealing the connection and romance between the two.
The movie plays between multiple genre realms. It has clear action movie motivations, with a neat romance story tied strongly with the plot. You could also say it's a musical, because of all the music, which is what we'll dive into next.
Let's talk about the soundtrack, a very mixed bag but each song getting its own minute in the limelight throughout the film. Including such artists as Queen, Jon Spencer, Run The Jewels, T.Rex and my personal favourite Beck, it's a soundtrack I think every record collector needs in their lives right now. Find it in a record store near you and pick it up as soon as you can, you will not be disappointed by this absolute gem of musical magic. I will be doing another article series soon just talking about the soundtrack, so look out for that soon.
A story with clear heist movie beats but with a romance and musical twist, and some pure editing genius makes Baby Driver required viewing for all, normal people and film buffs alike. Also worth watching are The French Connection, and the main influence of this wonderful piece of cinema, The Driver by Walter Hill. Get ready for your bellbottoms to be knocked right off.
Baby Driver is available on digital in the US as of now, and will be released on blu ray there on the 10th of October. It releases on digital in the UK on the 23rd of October, and the 13th of November is the disc release for us Brits.