Commentaries

Friday, June 23, 2017

BABY DRIVER



MUSIC, ACTION SYNCED

Film Review by Fiore 


If you take a quirky capper film, like Guy Ritchie’s LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, and mix it with the primary concept of Jason Statham’s TRANSPORTER, you’ll have the foundation for BABY DRIVER.  The film is an enjoyable action-thriller which is helped tremendously by a top-notch acting ensemble and a clever celluloid ploy. 

Baby is Ansel Elgort.  He is a driver extraordinaire, and a two-bit car thief.  He makes the mistake of boosting the car of one of Atlanta’s biggest crime lords, Doc, played by Kevin Spacey, and is in indebted to Doc to serve as a getaway driver for robberies until his debt is repaid.  Baby had an accident when he was a young boy which left him with a severe case of tinnitus.  As an aide, he constantly listens to, and bases his driving off music.

Doc is a smooth operator.  He orchestrates major heists throughout the Atlanta area, but never uses the same crew twice.  This enables us to see a nice collection of villains including: Jamie Foxx as Bats; John Hamm, as Buddy; Elza Gonzalez as Darling; and Jon Bernthal as Griff. 

Bernthal’s role is a mere cameo.  It’s too bad THE PUNISHER didn’t have a larger part; he is intense in his short screen time.  Lily James enters the story as Debora, Baby’s love interest. 

Foxx is exceptional in his part.  Normally, he has a contract which restricts the types of characters he can portray.  He always requires he play the role of a positive black man with solid values.  That clause is ignored in BABY DRIVER, thankfully.  The clause was truly limited Foxx’s characters.  He plays Bats, a psychotic thief who justifies his ruthless actions through misguided victimization.  It’s one of Foxx’s best roles in a number of years.

While much of the story is told in flashback, we pick up the tale just as Baby is on the verge of repaying Doc.  Naturally, once the debt is paid, there is one more job Baby is coerced into doing, and it is the heist that envelopes Murphy’s Law.

1.1        KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      THE OPENING GETAWAY
2.      THE MASKS
3.      DISCOVERY OF THE TAPES


Bill Pope, one of Hollywood’s camera icons, provides bone-jarring shots during the action sequences, with the assistance of Stunt Co-ordinator Darrin Prescott.  He compliments them with close-ups during the dialogue shots, except for Doc, who isn’t seen in close up until the film’s conclusion.  It’s solid cinematography, and I would expect nothing less from Pope.

Steven Price orchestrates the soundtrack, which consists of over thirty contemporary and classic songs.  The music is essential to BABY DRIVER.  All the film’s action, and even select parts of the dialogue, are set to the beat of the song playing.  Carl doors, racking gun slides, footfalls, counting money, all are done to the rhythm of the music.  It’s a cool celluloid ploy.  I don’t know if I like to watch every movie like this, but for BABY DRIVER, it works just fine and provides fun, even in the film’s slow points.

For those slow points, blame Editors Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos.  Most of the film is delivered with a quick pace, even the flashback sequences, but something goes terribly wrong in the middle of the second act.  The film lags, and all the momentum built dissipates quickly.  The beginning of act three requires a new wave of intensity. I’ll blame this, once again, on the use of more than one editor.  It is proving to be a maxim with augmenting proof.   

Let’s take a look at the report card for BABY DRIVER:

1.2       ACTING = B

1.3       ACTION = B

1.4      CINEMATOGRAPHY = B

1.5       SOUND/MUSIC = A

1.6      EDITING = C

1.7       LIGHTING = B

1.8      SCRIPT = C

1.9      SFX = B



Director and writer Edgar Wright crafts a nifty action thriller with BABY DRIVER.  The action/music syncing ploy brings the film to a higher level.  If you are looking for a few hours of cinematic conflict, tossed with a bit of humor, an odd-ball main character and a solid supporting cast, BABY DRIVER will fill the bill. 






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