Monday, 13 November 2017

Baby Driver (2017)

Okay, let's address the supporting elephant in the soundbooth, metaphorically speaking. As a movie-related blog, there will be things mentioned here that involve people who have been guilty of very heinous acts. That includes both stars from the past and stars from the present. I will still watch movies starring these people. I still really want to see House Of Cards (I wonder if Netflix will keep it available). And I still hope to enjoy Baby Driver when I next watch it, despite the presence of Kevin Spacey in a supporting role. Different people have taken very different stances recently, in light of events that seem to have led to a dozen revelations a day, with major accusations being levelled against the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Spacey, Louis C. K., Brett Ratner, Bryan Singer, and more. If you want to try and avoid ALL of these people then you do what you have to do. I am still going to be watching as many movies as ever, and playing catch up (the default position of any cinephile), so I am sure that this won't be the only film to feature someone who turned out to be a real piece of shit offscreen. And I am still going to do my own part to help anyone around me feel and stay as safe and unthreatened as they should be, in both the workplace and just in day to day life. Call people out on their behaviour, speak up if a situation is taking a turn for the worse, remove any level of acceptability for the mindset that has led to this world of poisonous clouds and booby-trapped environments that women have had to navigate for FAR too long. What I won't ever do is, for example, buy an autobiography written by Kevin Spacey entitled: "How To Make A Non-Apology And Distract People With Gayness." That will not be happening. If we're all on the same page . . . then we'll begin.

Written and directed by Edgar Wright, who had certainly been thinking about the idea since he made the above music video for Mint Royale, Baby Driver is an astonishingly well-crafted mix of audio and action. If, like me, you have ever wandered around with an iPod soundtracking your day, or just waited for the right tune to get you motivated and moving, then this is a film for you.

The story is fairly standard stuff, and we've seen it all before. It's the "good" criminal (Ansel Elgort, playing Baby) aiming for that one last job that will free him from the clutches of a very bad criminal (Kevin Spacey). But will the last job go smoothly, and will Baby actually be allowed to go free?

The cast are all great here. Elgort is as naive and quiet as he needs to be, livened up when he has his music on, and selling all of the moves and rhythms of his character. Spacey is fine in his role, but Jon Hamm is the best of the supporting players, despite solid turns from Jamie Foxx, Eiza Gonzalez, and Jon Benthal. Lily James doesn't make as good an impression as she should, but that is the fault of Wright more than anything to do with her performance.

But how does it fare as a car flick? Well, the driving stunts are damn impressive, with some practical work that showcases precision and style in exactly the way that should be the norm for this kind of thing (*cough* F8 *cough*). Wright shows that he can hande the action unsurprisingly, but that is only half the story. Lest we forget, Baby Driver is also a piece of musical entertainment. It's not traditional, but you could argue the case for this film to sit alongside the likes of The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, All That Jazz, and even La La Land (the most traditional of those three, funnily enough). If you disagree, watch the film while paying particular attention to the choreography, be it of the characters, the editing, every mis en scene element, and then feel free to tell me if you still think I am talking nonsense.

The whole thing is a marvellous conceit, but it's also makes for a film that won't have too many people just thinking it is okay. I suspect most will love it or absolutely hate it. For me, Wright has crafted yet another winner, even if it doesn't have the rapid-fire gag delivery of his previous works (which is no great loss when it allows him to show that he has more than one string to his bow). It will be very interesting, however, to see if he can use his next film to move even further away from what has been his fairly established bag of tricks.


Now let's end with a song/the opening scene.

Buy Baby Driver here (UK) or here (USA).
Catch up with me and some other guys talking movies at Raiders Of The Podcast (here).

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