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Baby Driver (2017) Review

ASelenatorsView ASelenatorsView Baby Driver is directed and written by Edgar Wright (The World's End, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and stars Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent), Lily James (Cinderella, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained, Law Abiding Citizen) and Jon Hamm (Mad Men, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). "After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail". Baby Driver is the most critically acclaimed film since Get Out - will it live up to sky high expectations or are those expectations a little unrealistic?

I didn't think Baby Driver was great. Yes, you read that right. The film is by no means bad, it's a solid action flick but I think it's seriously flawed and definitely not the masterpiece I was expecting. Baby Driver is definitely a film I plan to revisit later down the line when the buzz is not as high so I can re-evaulate my opinion with more realistic expectations. I may end up loving it and seeing what everyone else does. Currently though, I just don't see what's so special about it. Does Baby Driver do for the action genre what Get Out did for the horror genre or what La La Land did for the musical genre? No. It's fun though, just not incredible.

Let me explain. I was expecting a sharply cut film that had a great soundtrack with superb action sequences that were cleverly synchronised to the music. What I experienced was a stylish film that didn't really have that one killer track and the action sequences could have been a little more on point and in time with the music. I honestly thought the trailers looked brilliant and everything I saw in the trailer was just as good in the film. I was looking for something special but there was just nothing that was doing it for. I fully understand I'm in the minority but I just didn't connect with Baby Driver as much as I was hoping.

The action scenes were well done but much shorter than I expected. They were always fun and entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the third act where the action sequences were what I hoped the rest of the film would be - fast-paced, clever, gripping but also very fun. The music choices admittedly did get better towards the end of the film. My favourite action scenes were definitely the gun shootout in the warehouse and the finale. For the rest of the time though, Baby Driver just cruised along at a pretty slow pace - it was the type of annoyance you get when you're in a traffic jam - you just want to get back on the road but for an unknown reason you're being held up. I also wasn't expecting such a serious tone. I suppose what was also underwhelming about the action sequences is that we see them from Baby's perspective so we don't get to actually see the action or be involved with the high-octane excitement - imagine the opening of Guardians 2 for an entire movie.

Baby Driver definitely deserves praise for something that is very rare in Hollywood these days - originality. It was fun to see (the beginning of?) a new action/heist world. Even though the only well developed character was Baby, he was all that matters - he was a likeable lead and his need for music actually made sense. The character was well thought out - everything he did was in character, especially towards the end when he started to realise what he was doing was wrong and a more humane side to him came out. Edgar Wright's idea of a music synchronised action film is genius - I just wish he pulled it off a little slicker and made some more stylish creative choices when it came to the action and music. It was also refreshing to be able to tell that this was an individuals creative vision rather than a studios - Edgar Wrights voice and vision really shines through and he does make some clever and stylish choices in some scenes - the laundrette comes to mind.

I also didn't care all too much for the performances in this film. I'll be honest, I always find it hard to like Ansel Elgort in a role - The Fault in Our Stars is the only exception. I found the opening scene with him incredibly cringe-worthy and it just felt very forced and on-the-nose. Elgort really didn't have too much to do here but I found his expressions when driving a little exaggerated - that pout was annoying! There's probably an explanation for why the character acts like this - the character's name is Baby so there could be more to that than just a name, it could suggest his characteristics (after all, he did lose his parents at a young age so likely hasn't matured at the same rate as everyone else). Elgort wasn't bad, I just wouldn't be rushing to give him any awards for this performance. I thought Lily James was good and I believed the romance between James and Elgort - the romance was actually really well done and a stronger point of the film. Jamie Foxx felt out of place - his star power seemed way too big for a small flick like this. Jon Hamm actually made a pretty ruthless villain - his motivations made sense and it actually seemed like nothing was going to stop him. I was convinced by Bernthal's performance.

I think I know why I didn't love Baby Driver though, I think it's because none of the characters are actually that likeable and the plot has you routing for a bunch of criminals. I don't think it's ever explained why the team do what they do other than just for money - nobody seems to have wronged them personally. If Baby Driver had a big bad from the very start, maybe I would have been able to get behind it. These characters are not good people, it's only Baby who sees the good and I think what happens to him is deserved but I also think the film handles the whole situation well.

I was expecting to love Baby Driver and this film has certainly taught me to manage my expectations as that is surely a large factor in why I don't feel so positive towards the film - I was expecting something that was going to be a game changer in the genre and I got something that was simply good. Baby Driver isn't a flashy film and is actually quite quiet with lots of downtime (a little too much) but when the action comes, its always fun and engaging. Baby Driver also has some funny moments and some clever music choices (but not loads). Ansel Elgort is pleasant, Lily James makes for a great love interest - with a really sweet love story intertwined. Everything else is pretty thinly thought out. Baby Driver isn't a John Wick but it should get credit for being unlike much else. I guess there's still hope for Atomic Blonde which looks super cool. Baby Driver is good, not great but I will revisit it in the near future to find that something I've clearly missed.


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