Friday, January 24, 2020

Baby Driver: Pedal to the Metal Action!

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With a title like “Baby Driver” one would imagine the movie would be some sort of lost Adam Sandler comedy. In reality, however, the film is a fast paced, action, crime movie that feels like a story written back in the ‘80s, that’s taking place in modern day. It has shootouts, high-speed chases, and licensed music from the 1960s through ‘90s. The only question, however, is this enough for the film to stand out from the drudgery of typical high-speed crime flicks like “The Fast and the Furious” films?

The story follows Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, a young man who suffers from a slight hearing impairment he received as a child from a car accident that killed his parents. However, he also possesses an amazing talent for driving as long as he has the right soundtrack playing. A talent that is exploited through an indentured servitude to a crime boss named Doc, played by Kevin Spacey. Through a series of robberies, planned out by Doc, Baby acts as the getaway driver while the hired thugs deal with the dirty parts involving the robbing and shooting. Thugs played by notable actors such as Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, and Jamie Foxx. After finishing his last heist, Baby is prepared to leave the life of crime behind so he can start anew with his girlfriend Debora, played by Lily James. However, Doc has no intention of losing his best driver, and after persuading Baby to return for another job, saddles the young man with a crew of thugs too violent for their own good. As tension rise among the crew of psychotic goons, Baby finds himself, and the people he loves, in danger. It’s going to take all of Baby’s driving talents, plus the right amount of tunes, to make a fast getaway.

 

 

I’ll be the first to admit I had low expectations for the story because, on paper, the overall plot sounds like a “by the numbers’” crime drama movie that’s been done before in other films. However, “Baby Driver” actually does a good job in its delivery. Everything’s easy to follow and there’s no complicated twists or backstories to drag out the run time. Decent as the plot and characters are, the action is where the movie shines. The gun play scenes are cool to watch, yet don’t drag out too long, and leave you hungry for more. As for the car chase scenes, they are the main course of the movie. If you’re a fan of fast paced scenes mixed with a rocking soundtrack, then “Baby Driver” will not disappoint. There is enough high-speed action here that it would leave the “Fast and the Furious” movies envious.

As for actors, they do a good job humanizing their characters. Ansel Elgort does a decent job as the socially awkward Baby, a criminal with a heart of gold. Both his driving performance and physical performance were the high points of the film, and even his little dance numbers were a humorous addition as well. Kevin Spacey, as always, does a grand job as the criminal crime boss Doc. Then again, saying Kevin Spacey did a good job cast as a criminal, is like saying sugar tastes sweet; it’s to be expected. As for Jon Hamm, he nearly steals the show as the humorous, but dangerous thug named Buddy.

As mentioned in the plot synopsis, Baby relies on licensed music while he completes his heists, and you can believe the movie uses its soundtrack well. “Baby Driver” is gifted with licensed music from classic bands and singers like the Beach Boys, Commodores, Martha & the Vandellas, Barry White, and much more. However, there’s more to the soundtrack than just having a good selection of licensed music, it’s the way the film uses it. In most movies, whenever a licensed song with lyrics is played, it’s used for scenes to give them more spice, in case the viewer found them boring. Or for scenes used to display the passage of time like a montage. So, while the audience hears the music, the characters, for all we know, don’t. That’s not the case here. The soundtrack is almost a character in this movie. Every song that’s heard is played through the numerous portable music devices Baby possesses, which means both he, and the characters with him, hear the music that’s being used in various parts of the movie, with each tune adding a purpose to the scene.

“Baby Driver” is rated R for violence and language. If you’re looking for an action crime movie with a kicking soundtrack, interesting criminals, and memorable actions scenes, then “Baby Driver” is one film you won’t regret watching. It’s a fun film to end the summer on. Which is why the final score for “Baby Driver” is a 7.5 out 10.

Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.

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