I was unaware of this movie until I read a newpaper article about a press event in Kuala Lumpur. I had never heard of director Edgar Wright or the lead actor, Ansel Elgort. But I instantly decided this movie is a must-watch because there are 46 songs in it, including Simon & Garfunkel’s Baby Driver. (This song was in the same album as Bridge Over Troubled Water, one of my favourite songs.)
The movie opens with Baby Driver at the wheel of the getwaway car (a Subaru, as blending in with the traffic was important) of a heist. The opening credits came on soon after and I was pleasantly surprised to see Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx among the cast. I anticipated a wonderful two hours’ entertainment.
Elgort plays Baby, and he got this name because that’s the first word he said. (His real name would only be revealed at the end of the movie, and it reminds me of a jazz musician of the same name.)
Spacey plays Doc, the boss and the brains behind the crimes. He turns out to be not a good leader but shows some good moments. He claims Baby is his lucky charm but he threatens Baby and his loved ones yet also protects him and lay down his life for him when the police descend on them.
Foxx plays Bats, a ruthless criminal in the gang. The members of the gang vary for every job. Other ciminals, all violent, include Buddy (played by Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) and JD (Lanny Joon).
The car scenes are well choreographed and exciting. The pace is fast and the action is great. But there are also touching moments; for eg when Baby fails in protecting his foster dad, Jo (CJ Jones), and has to put him in a home for assisted living. Another example is when Baby steps on the brake when his girlfriend Debora (Lily James) wants to reverse the car they are in as they come to a police block on a bridge; Baby turns off the engine and exits with his hands raised and throws the keys into the waters. The most sentimental scenes I must say involve Baby’s mum and what happened to her. This includes the many flashbacks and the song, Easy (originally by The Commodores), is sung by Sky Ferreira, who plays Baby’s mum.
The movie is so infused with music that even the characters talk about them, besides the heists and the romance between Baby and Debra. Some of these include Egyptian Reggae (Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers), Was He Slow? (Kid Koala), Let’s Go Away For Awhile (The Beach Boys), B-A-B-Y (Carla Thomas), Unsquare Dance (Dave Brubeck), Debra (T. Rex), Brighton Rock (Queen), Tequila (Button), and You Are So Beautiful (Bug Hall).
The car chases are set to high-energy tracks like Bellbottoms (The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) and Neat Neat Neat (The Damned).
This is a movie about a young man with multiple skills, a getaway driver who is driven by music. There is something special about him. Besides his driving skills, Baby creates music from the audio samples he has recorded. He always carries an audio recorder with him and records conversations and then use these to crop and track to music. There is inspiration all around him.
He always has earplugs in his ears because he has tinnitus, a condition where his ears are constantly ringing and listening to music helps ease the ringing. (I wonder, though, how true this is.) Bats is frustrated with Baby’s listening to music and believes Baby isn’t listening to Doc when he gives instructions, but Baby could recite word for word the plan Doc has laid out for the next heist.
I look forward to more movies like this – filled with great music, a good story, wonderful acting, well-choreographed scenes, awesome stunts, and excellent visual and special effects!