Baby Driver (2017)
All you need is one killer track.
I don't know about you, but I haven't really heard anyone go "Don't see Baby Driver, it's bad." I was actually pretty interested to see this when it was in theaters - just not enough so to spend the money and see it in theaters. Sometimes it's a bit hard to motivate yourself like that - but it got added to my rental queue as soon as possible so I could check it out. Promises of a good soundtrack and nice car-based action had the DvD spinning, but the ever-present question is if what's under the hood can back up the frame, or we are going to be left in the exhaust.
As far as the plot goes, it keeps it simple. It has a few layers of mystery to it - we don't really get into a whole lot of character motivation at first, and by then we've already experienced at least one chase scene and witnessed the driving savant in action. We then get to journey with our main character as we unravel his own motivations, and see them sidetrack by what any natural story would get sidetracked by - a love interest. The movie foreshadows itself quite a bit, but there isn't anything wrong with that and it only helps some scenes feel more deserved and fitting. Still, it's entirely possible that someone might not feel intellectually challenged enough for by this movie - to which my largest retort is simply that not every movie needs to blatantly feel like it's got some huge commentary to make on everything at face value. If a person really wants to, they can still find some interesting little thought paths in there.
Of course, to me, more interesting than any of that this time around is actual audio related. Our director here (Wright) is kind of known a bit for some of his particular nuances when it comes to making movies - such as things happening to the beat or otherwise tying to the music. If you didn't catch that happening during the finally of Shaun of the Dead, you are probably more oblivious than me in a dark shed. In this one though, whew, he really amps that stuff up. You could practically break this entire movie up into a series of music videos and have nobody be the wiser. And it doesn't just stop at having things transition with songs or happen on the beats - no. In a particularly fun bit during the opening credits, we actually see words in the environment (logically, looking like street art or vandalism) in time with the song that just so happens (I say as if it's coincidental) to match up with the lyrics of the song. Is it super necessary or relevant to the plot - no, but its just a little detail that helps hammer home how important this movie feels music is.
Besides how it ties into things that are happening or displaying it's lyrics on screen, the soundtrack is one that I can just get behind. A lot of these songs are from bands I recognize, and the ones I don't I can still largely get behind - although admittedly I'm not super fond of a few of the mixes, but hey, that's all just personal preference anyways. Beyond the music and how easily it's worked into the story and action with the simple reason that our main character uses it to drone out the tinnitus ring of his ears (maybe that's why I enjoy my music so loud?) there is the standard array of well done folly as well. From squealing tires to gunshots, even to that just mentioned tinnitus ring effect, it all comes in so readily heard and purposeful. It all combines to make it all feel very natural and fluid, at times even helping keep an otherwise static conversation scene on the move.
The actors aren't too static themselves - they all play their roles up pretty good. One might find a character or two a bit one-dimensional feeling, which could potentially make any changes of heart or otherwise emotion-shown moments feel slightly out of place, but it adds an added sub-tone to an emphasis on love and protecting the things you do. It's super sappy and corny in that way, but the actors never really play it out as though it's this self-conscious funny jab at romance so much as it's just characters being alive and getting attached. Some of the best parts of characters - especially the ones who are barely in the movie - come simply from reactions as they ride in the getaway car and bear witness to the crazy skills of our lead.
The action itself is put together nicely. Although there is plenty of moments that are shot in wide or long takes, it does still cut a decent amount - but here it feels very much appropriate and rarely jarring. Cutting a scene isn't always bad - it's generally just the overabundance of it can lead to getting lost in a scene and just visually overloaded. Some of the cuts are also something you might recognize from other Wright movies - such as the old foreground switcharoo - where a foreground object slides in front of us and by the time it's gone a new scene is happening. Of course, my favorite part of it all is that it still looks like a polished movie the entire time - we don't resort to massive moments of shakey-cam to cover things up or cuts to make sure we don't notice the stunt people, although some of that might just be since so much of the stunts are car based.
And the things cars do in this movie, whew. We've got nearly side-ways driving, and crazy spins, and drifting that'd make Tokyo proud. We might not have nearly as many souped up cars as Fast and the Furious, but everything feels a bit more grounded in a way because of it. The driving feats still feel like they are beyond the reach of the average person, but is honestly far more believable than something like the main character of Commando taking out an entire Island of enemies single handedly. The plot flows as well as most of these car maneuvers as well, although I have heard some people weren't quite as happy by the bottom quarter of the movie - although honestly I didn't have much of a problem with it. The romance plot could be a bit of a bore if you aren't into that sort of thing - which largely I'm not - but it never felt like it dwelt on it so long that my interest in the movie waned, even if I did wonder just how the movie was going fill out it's second half when it seemed as though it had resolved everything already.
Some of the characters are a bit over-the-top, and I'd feel safe say most have at least some level of exaggeration to them - but it makes the movie the better for it. It's a well oiled musical machine whose smooth story beats are only exceeded by it's racing solos, who occasionally tries to mellow you out with a little serenade or two. Easily recommendable as a watch for most people - although there's a bit of violence and language involved, and some might argue about morals despite our main character obviously not being meant for the world in which he's taking part in, but that in turn only helps give the movie more leg to stand on in my opinion. Check this one out, and hopefully you've got a good sound system to appreciate all those sweet tunes.