Edgar Wright’s adrenaline-filled heist drama and atmospheric musical, Baby Driver, follows a getaway driving prodigy, known as “Baby,” (Ansel Elgort) as he attempts to find a way out of this accidental life of crime (Character vs. Self Conflict). Yet, there are forces against him on both sides of the law (Character vs. Society Conflict). This unique, music-driven, quirky conglomeration of street racing, OCD, and innocent love is unlike any film I’ve seen in my life. With well-developed, relatable characters and a masterful soundtrack that blends perfectly with the on-screen action, Baby Driver is a breath of fresh air in an era of unoriginal, formulaic films that continue to grow stale.
Perhaps what drives Baby away from this dangerous lifestyle is his desire for a normal life to care for his disabled foster father, and to act on his newfound love for the pretty waitress at the local diner, Debora (Lily James). Baby does not usually open up to the people around him, mostly due to his occupation, as well as his tinnitus condition, a result from the car accident that left him as an orphan. Yet, Debora has an effect on Baby that gives us more of a peek into his personality. Baby is driven by ticks and quirks (Romantic Hero), but Debora takes a liking to him despite these characteristics that others might consider odd. This underlying youthful romance provided perfect balance to this film, which otherwise showcased high-speed car chases and machine gun shootouts (Character vs. Character Conflict).
During the aforementioned action sequences, the music’s tempo perfectly synced with the motions and events transpiring. There was an excited and adventurous tone created by the music in these scenes. In other scenes with Baby and Debora, there were different tunes used to create a gentler, pleasant mood. One specific scene that was quite memorable was the opening credits sequence, which followed the thrill of an initial heist display. A single camera follows Baby as he dances in time with the music in his headphones through the streets of Atlanta, Georgia. All of the people around him cannot hear the music that is playing in his ears, which creates a silly, carefree mood. One would never imagine the eventful day just experienced by Baby. Based on these details, I would say that music’s impact on the film was even more significant than dialogue. The soundtrack conveyed the emotions and feelings of the scenes and characters more than any spoken words.
A few other technical aspects of this film that stood out to me included the transition effects in certain scenes, as well as the sound design (apart from the music). In looking at the transitions, naturally occurring objects in the setting were used advantageously, such as a passing car that flipped the story into the next scene, or a spinning washing machine that faded into a record player. This added even more depth to this film’s resourcefulness. As far as sound design goes, Baby’s tinnitus was felt firsthand by the audience on a handful of occasions. He always wore headphones to drown out this ringing, but during particularly physical moments of action, he was forced to momentarily function without the sense of hearing. The audience heard the same ringing that Baby was experiencing. This further established the emotional connection between the audience and the fictional characters.
This detail-oriented work of cinematic art has me desiring a second viewing to analyze the various technicalities. There were so many small elements of the production of this film that were easily missed in a single viewing, but could provide more depth and wittiness when recognized. This is far more than a mindless action film, but rather, an entertaining story of overcoming one’s past mistakes and finding love. Its rewatchable characteristics will undoubtedly bring me back in the future.
MPAA Rating: R
– For Violence, language, and sexuality