Thursday, July 13, 2017

Baby Driver

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

Baby Driver is everything Edgar Wright's career has been building up to & even more. It perfectly mixes action, comedy, drama, & romance into something that you don't see that much in cinema anymore: pure originality.

The film focuses on Baby (played by Ansel Elgort), a getaway driver for notorious criminal Doc (played by Kevin Spacey). When Baby was a kid, his parents (played by Sky Ferriera & Lance Palmer) died in a car crash that also gave Baby tinnitus, ringing in the ears. During the drives, he uses music to drown out the ringing. And he uses an absolutely vast variety of music: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion; The Damned; Martha & the Vandellas; Golden Earring; etc. He lives with his deaf caretaker, Joseph (played by C.J. Jones). After pulling off a heist with husband-&-wife team Buddy (played by Jon Hamm) & Darling (played by Eiza González), along with Griff (played by Jon Bernthal), he only has one last heist to perform before he has paid his debts to Doc.

After meeting with Doc, he goes to a diner, where he meets an absolutely beautiful waitress named Debora (played by Lily James), whom he meets when he hears her singing B-A-B-Y by Carla Thomas. As they talk over songs involving her name, including Debra by Beck & Debora by T. Rex, a mutual attraction forms between them.

He finishes his last heist with Eddie No-Nose (played by Flea), J.D. (played by Lanny Joon), & Bats (played by Jamie Foxx), but not before Bats, an absolute madman, starts some trouble. Baby, now free from his debt to Doc, gets a job as a pizza delivery man & is now free to start a relationship with Debora. But Doc comes calling again, reuniting Baby with Buddy, Darling & Bats on a heist that could potentially get everyone in trouble.

The performances are absolutely incredible. Ansel Elgort, Lily James, & Eiza González give excellent breakout performances, while Kevin Spacey gives another amazing & commanding performance, & Jon Hamm & Jamie Foxx absolutely kill it here. I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear any of their names mentioned as Oscar contenders.

Edgar Wright's direction is arguably his best. After directing masterpiece after masterpiece (2004's Shaun of the Dead, 2007's Hot Fuzz, 2010's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, & 2013's The World's End), his directorial vision has risen to new heights. He directs the many car chases in the film unlike many other directors have, & he does it amazingly. Also, he directed the beats of the music to the actions of the characters, & that is something that has to be seen to be believed because he also does that so excellently.

His screenplay is also brilliant. He has a knack for writing excellent characters, & that happens here, as he makes characters that could've easily been caricatures into full-blooded, 3-dimensional people.

Bill Pope's cinematography is a huge bright spot in the film, from the multiple long takes to the frequent elevator shots that perfectly frame everyone in it.

The editing from Paul Machliss & Jonathan Amos really shines. Many films lately have received some bad marks for their frenetic editing, but Machliss & Amos make it work here. The breakneck style of editing reminds many of the styles of editing perfected in films by Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, & Paul Thomas Anderson, among others.

But the film's biggest & greatest aspect is the sound design. The sound is perfectly edited & mixed, from the soundtrack, to the sounds of the car chases. The sound editors & sound mixers all deserve Oscars for their pitch-perfect work here.

And the soundtrack is also excellent, & deserves every single amount of praise it has received. Featuring music from a wide range of genres & years, it perfectly underscores the scenes.

I honestly smiled throughout the entire film because I loved it so much. I was hyped for this film from the moment I saw the trailer, & the film surpassed my extremely high expectations. This is definitely the best film of the year so far, & is one of the best of the decade so far. It's one of those films that both critics (96% on Rotten Tomatoes, 86% on Metacritic) & audiences ($76 million so far, 8.3 on IMDb) both love. And if you haven't seen this masterpiece yet, see it (& see it on the biggest screen possible) & you won't be disappointed. It's everything you could possibly ever want in a film.

Baby Driver was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 113 minutes, & it is rated R for violence & language throughout.

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