Boy howdy, the early buzz on this movie.
I have to admit, I looked at this movie and I couldn’t exactly share the excitement of everyone else. Oh, not that the movie looked bad. Far from it. The trailer was showcasing car stunts that would make the Fast and Furious franchise look like it has small dicks and feature some over the top performances from truly great actors. I think what sort of anchored me back a bit was the comedy. And honestly, it was only the “Mike/Michael Myers” bit. I mean, the joke’s been painfully obvious for years and I never thought that a movie that was getting such high ratings and such great reviews would make this joke. In retrospect, I probably don’t have context for the scene, but… I’m pretty sure I do. Here’s hoping that this scene is atrociously trumped by how awesome the rest of the movie is.
Well, here’s the selling point for the movie, the cast. Starring, we have Ansel Elgort (ALLEGIANT , THE FAULT IN OUR STARS , CARRIE , and upcoming Divergent TV movie sequel ASCENDANT and rumored to be in DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, both due out… who knows when), Lily James (PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES , CINDERELLA , WRATH OF THE TITANS , and the upcoming Churchill film DARKEST HOUR ), and Kevin Spacey (NINE LIVES , SUPERMAN RETURNS , and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL ). In support, we have Jon Bernthal (THE ACCOUNTANT , FURY , TV show THE WALKING DEAD, and upcoming film WIND RIVER  and TV show THE PUNISHER), Jon Hamm (KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES , and TV shows UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT and MAD MEN), Eiza González (TV show FROM DUSK TILL DAWN).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Edgar Wright known for THE WORLD’S END (2013), SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (2010), and HOT FUZZ (2007). Composing the score is Steven Price, known for SUICIDE SQUAD (2016), FURY (2014), GRAVITY (2013), and the upcoming AMERICAN ASSASSIN (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Bill Pope, known for THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016), SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007), and THE MATRIX (1999).
Overall, yeah, I’m down for this movie. I don’t think I’m as hyped for it as the critics are, but I’m sure I’ll like this movie just fine.
This is my honest opinion of: BABY DRIVER
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young and talented getaway driver for a ruthless crime boss named Doc (Kevin Spacey). After seemingly finished with paying off a debt he owed him, he celebrates his freedom with asking out the waitress at the restaurant he goes to named Debora (Lily James) and the two strike up a relationship. But Baby is roped right back in by Doc who can’t let go of a precious resource and forces him into another job that Baby is determined to make his last.
Um… it’s good. Really good. But… yeah, I don’t agree with the rave reviews.
I suppose it’s best to say that this film isn’t nearly as action-packed as the trailers made it out to be. Tell me if anyone else agrees with me. The trailer makes it look like this movie will be loaded with amazing car stunts and chases. We get them, but they’re not as amazing as you’d expect. In fact, they seem pretty standard with maybe one or two exceptions. The first is the one showcased in the trailer where Baby expertly maneuvers past a few vehicles, screeching past them without so much as a scratch. But outside of the trailer, there’s another car chase where Baby has a red car and he gets in between a pair of other red cars in order to fool the police, which was a fun sequence. Other than that… oh, there was another where an enemy driver forces Baby’s car under a ten-wheeler and get dragged for a few dozen feet.
More than anything, the selling point for the movie is the performances. Obviously, Spacey sells his usual “douche bag” persona like no one else could. In fact, Doc’s relationship with Baby is fascinating and complex. On the one hand, he has the utmost faith in Baby’s skills and often leaps to his defense with a high level of ferocity when someone questions why he’s on the team. On the other hand, most of the conflict is when Baby pays off his debt to Doc and then the man forces him to join him on one last job using very “passive” aggressive threats, so the man has very little interest in letting him have a life of his own, so you’re never really rooting for the character to live, but there is some sort of twisted father-son relationship going on, so you do see a level of empathy that Doc has for Baby.
I can also appreciate the relationship between Baby and Debora. Usually, relationships between the protagonist and love interest can feel really forced and unnecessary. You know, the damsel in distress cliché. Thing is, the story does something different with it. In more ways than the average movie-goer may think, she is a damsel in distress, but not in the classic “tied to a chair in an undisclosed location,” but rather a more subtle threat where Doc threatens to hurt Debora if he doesn’t go on that last job. So she is being used against him, just not as dramatically. And because we do see their relationship blossom over the course of the movie, we do get sucked into James’ million dollar smile and soul-piercing eyes, and are right there with Baby in not wanting to see her hurt in any way.
Most of the supporting cast isn’t wasted either. CJ Jones as Baby’s foster father Joseph was a really empathetic character. He’s deaf, but is perfectly aware of Baby’s illegal activities, but also knows that he doesn’t want to be a part of it. I can only assume that he knows about Baby’s debt to Doc. Still, he’s a kindly old man who treats Baby well. Hamm and González as Buddy and Darling (respectively) are a fun pair, being hired guns that are crazy in love with each other. It’s never obnoxious, thank God, and it’s even sort of cute in its own right. Like, Darling will tell Buddy to kill a guy because he looked at her funny and he’ll agree to do it. Romantically fucked up. I liked it.
But here’s where the movie fell a little short with me. Not by much, but enough to have that complaint. Foxx’s character, Bats, was incredibly annoying to me. While everyone else is professionally an asshole, he’s the one character that goes out of his way to give Baby a hard time throughout their interactions together. Maybe during their first meeting that’d be fine. A group of professional and grizzled thugs having a young twenty-something with earbuds in his ears and being totally dependent on his skills, that’d have anyone with a few question marks above their heads. But even once he’s proven himself, he’s still insanely paranoid and hard on him for no reason. He never shuts up when he’s on screen, that’s the other thing. This is a character that loves to hear himself talk, preaching the truth about what they do and who they can trust, all that nonsense and it was grating. Now don’t get me wrong, Foxx is a great actor and his performance here is no exception. But his character was insufferable for me. Everything that came out of his mouth just sounded like the gangster equivalent to whining.
Beyond all that, the movie is good and definitely worth seeing. Just don’t expect this to be some kind of next gen Fast And Furious, like I was. It’s not nearly action-packed enough for that, nor is there a great deal of creative or over-the-top action scenes. No, this movie is its own thing, but that’s nowhere near a negative against the film. The film is funny, intense, dramatic, engaging, lead by distinguished characters that you like to watch coupled with fantastic performances that more than make this movie’s price of admission worth it. I don’t agree with the hype, but I do recommend this to anyone interested.
My honest rating for BABY DRIVER: a strong 4/5