Monday, July 03, 2017

BABY DRIVER: The Best Movie Of The Summer Is Here

Now playing at a multiplex near you, the much buzzed about movie that’s #2 at the box office (sadly following DESPICABLE ME 3):

(Dir. Edgar Wright, 2017)

Edgar Wright’s first film since 2013’s hilarious conclusion to the Cornetto trilogy, THE WORLD’S END, is the summer’s best film so far. It’s a wild ride concerning young newcomer Ansel Elgort as Baby, a getaway driver for a series of heists planned by Kevin Spacey as a slick, sinister crime kingpin named Doc. And the icing on the cake is that the nonstop action is fueled by a hip, hot nonstop soundtrack.

We meet Elgort’s Baby, who’s constantly plugged into one of his many iPods (“I’ve got iPods for different days, and moods” he explains), in the middle of a bank robbery with fellow felons played by Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, and Eiza González, synched to “Bellbottoms” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. A chaotic car chase through downtown Atlanta follows in which Baby’s extremely fast-minded expert evading of the police makes Ryan Gosling in DRIVE look like an f-in’ amateur.

Baby continuously listens to music to drown out his tinnitus which was the result of a car accident that killed his parents when he was a kid. He lives in a shabby apartment with his foster father (CJ Jones), and makes mixes of sound bites he records daily adding beats and turn table effects.

Spacey’s Doc tells Baby that after one more job his debt will be paid off so he join a different crew made up of Jamie Foxx, Flea, and Lanny Goon for the robbery of an armored car.

The job doesn’t go as smoothly as before (meaning that there are casualties), but Baby is out of the game and goes legit taking a job as pizza delivery man. On a date with a cute waitress named Debora (cue: Beck’s “Debra”) he met earlier in the movie, he runs into Doc, who, of course, wants him to do one last job.

Wright’s film, which he’s had on the back burner since 1994, is full of kinetic energy with quick cuts, jolting thrills, and stunning visuals flashing by in intoxicating sequence after sequence. It recalls the exciting spark of Tarantino’s best work while being very much its own thing. It’s a shame that Wright’s ANT-MAN didn’t come to fruition (he was replaced by Peyton Reed as director due to artistic differences) but if that helped make this happen he still came out on top.

Elgort, best known for the DIVERGENT series and THE FAULT BEHIND THE STARS (though not by me as I haven't seen any of those movies), puts in an incredibly focused star-making turn in the title role. There were times that I wished he were cast as the young Han Solo in the upcoming STAR WARS spin-off. Especially since I hear that an acting coach had to be called in for Alden Ehrenreich.

My only complaint is that much of the cast gets lost in the mix. Although Bernthal makes a gruff, threatening mark in an early scene, he disappears for the rest of the movie (granted he does say “If you don’t see me again, it’s because Im dead but I wanted at least a call back). Hamm and González are very appealing in their sideline roles but don't really get much of a chance to make their characters very memorable.

However, Foxx does, ferociously sinking his teeth into his part as Leon Bats Jefferson III, who is deliciously trigger happy and quick to question Babys meticulous methods. Spacey does good work in his meaty roll as Doc, but its a part he could play in his sleep.

BABY DRIVER is so much fun that I’m really looking forward to seeing it again. Much of its well shot shoot-outs and crazy car stunt action goes by in such an ultra stylish blur (even including a song by the British band Blur) that I’m sure there’s a lot I missed.

And its rewatchability is also heightened by its amazing soundtrack, which will surely become a classic. Unlike, say, the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY series’ musical platters, it’s dominated by largely obscure artists like the Damned, Googie René, Danger Mouse, Big Boi, Carla Thomas, Run The Jewels, and Bob & Earl. Even the songs by the better known artists like Commodores, T. Rex, Simon & Garfunkel, and the Beach Boys are deep cuts that are unfamiliar on film.

So take a break from all the summer superhero sequels and jump aboard the BABY DRIVER bandwagon. I seriously doubt that something better will come along this season.

More later...

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