“Baby Driver” The Cinematic Version Of Ultimate Cool!!!
By Scott Kurland
Film: Baby Driver
Starring Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Lily James, CJ Jones, Eiza Gonzalez, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx
Director: Edgar Wright
What does it mean to be cool? Is it assuming a mysterious demeanor? Is it how you dress? What you watch? What you listen to? How have we as a society decided someone is cool or badass? Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, James Dean; these were guys who embodied cool. They also all drove fast cars and dated beautiful women...well, at least Newman and McQueen did. James Dean on the other hand was always a bit of a question mark. According to Hollywood, being cool requires good taste in music, driving fast, and being an all-around dreamboat. Well, if that's the complete checklist for ultimate cool, then this week’s film “Baby Driver” is a block of ice. Let’s find out how good it is shall we?
“Baby Driver” is the pulse-pounding story of Baby (Ansel Elgort); a soft-spoken getaway driver that blasts music from various iPods to drown out the hum of his Tinnitus. Baby is fearless behind the wheel, but his choice of employer isn’t ideal. Baby works for Doc (Kevin Spacey); a level-head Mafioso who has Baby trapped in a form of indentured servitude. Baby is forced to be the wheelman for Doc’s goons (Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, and Eiza Gonzalez). Life seems to take a turn when Baby finally gets out of the business and meets a charming young waitress named Debora (Lily James), that is until Baby gets dragged back in for one last job. What will he do? Will he drive or brake too fast?
I love this film. "Baby Driver" along with “Get Out” and “Your Name” are making 2017 a great year for movies. Edgar Wright took his premature release from “Ant-Man” in 2014 and turned his creative pain into “Baby Driver.” I am actually happy Wright was let go from that film because he made such a perfect neo-noir driving film that feels like a movie musical. Granted, no one really sings in the movie, but the love of music is very present in every frame. What I love about Quentin Tarantino is what I love about Edgar Wright. They take exploitation cinema to a whole new level. Exploitation cinema, like Blaxplotation cinema, is one of my favorite genres. That’s where you take real-world stakes and exploit the hell out of them with action and car chases. Wright really makes this film fly off the screen.
What makes “Baby Driver” work besides a tight script is the execution of the characters and the performances from this eclectic cast. On paper, none of these actors should mesh well. You have Cinderella, Don Draper, Frank Underwood, Shane from “The Walking Dead”, Ray Charles, and our leads is the handsome kid from “The Fault In Our Stars.” One of these things is not like the other. Oh, and also there’s a famous deaf actor CJ Jones playing Baby’s foster dad. None of these should work, but oh they do. It works so well that thinking of casting anyone else would be blasphemy. Jon Hamm deserves an Oscar nomination for his multi-layered performance of Buddy. Hamm starts out like your best “Buddy” and then, slowly, he shows why he’s the strong-willed thug that acts as Doc’s point leader.
Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey have a combined three Oscars between them and they give, quite possibly, their best performances in years. Foxx is absolutely insane and heartless as the character of Bats. Hes like the demented great- great-great-great-grandson of his character from “Django Unchained.” Bats is pure chaos. When Foxx utters his first line of dialog in the film, you know this is a special character. As for Spacey, I love how his character is written. Wright could have just made him another Mafia Boss like every other movie, but he isn’t. Spacey’s Doc is so complicated and full of respect for Baby that it elevates the film.
“Baby Driver” is definitely the most fun you’ll have at the movies this summer. This is what cool is. If Steve McQueen was a living breathing movie, this is the movie we'd get. It’s also one of the best films of 2017. See this movie. See it as many times as possible on the big screen. This film is worth the price of admission, from the first moment the old Tri-Star logo appears. The script is tight, the acting is superb, and this may have a better soundtrack than “Guardians of the Galaxy." I know, blasphemy- but it’s true. “Baby Driver” is the reason why summer movies exist.