Baby Driver is another of those heist films where the protagonist has to complete just one more job, and he’s out… and you’ll just know that there’s no escape, since why would a bad-guy boss let you go when you’re so damn good at your job?
However, don’t let the initial premise put you off, since what you need is a director who’ll add some exceptional style – step forward Edgar Wright (the Shaun of the Dead ‘Cornetto’ Trilogy, Spaced). He also adds a number of surprises which you wouldn’t expect in the average movie – but then EW *doesn’t make* average movies and, in fact, he made me sit up in my seat on a number of occasions, even bursting out laughing at some over-the-top elements thrown in for either punch or comic effect.
First time I saw this, the more I replayed some of the scenes in my head after watching the film – some during the drive home, the more I was enjoying it, and I really needed to see it again. It felt strange how it was only after I left the cinema that I appreciated some of the style of the movie, but that’s the delight of one that’s so packed, it takes another two hours to unpack in your mind.
And to quote the title of a song which is not featured in this film (although 30 others are – so there’s great music for everyone), ‘a whole lotta love’ has clearly gone into this film, with some attention-to-detail genius from Mr Wright that you would only normally get from a Wes Anderson movie, such as The Grand Budapest Hotel.
As for the plot, With a team organised by Doc (Kevin Spacey), the crew Baby (Divergent‘s Ansel Elgort) drives around with the most – since Doc likes to change things around, includes Bats (Jamie Foxx) – presumably so-called because he’s ‘bat-shit mental’, and as is quoted by another character to Baby, “When he sees red, you’ll see black”, since Bats is rather the violent type, plus long-standing couple Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza González). Add in a burgeoning relationship between Baby and waitress Debora (Lily James), which leads to elements of Bonnie & Clyde, a film that even gets a reference late on, plus a storyline I don’t want to reveal here as it wasn’t in the trailer – but it adds depth to Baby’s character.
The first 30 minutes features a couple of incredible car chases, but while the film does sag a little in the middle and it might not wholly hang together, as well as the fact I was finding it took until the second half to really get into it, it’s a real audio-visual treat, which has an incredibly high-octane last third, that final act coming back harder than Rocco Siffredi. First time, as I mentioned at the time, I felt I needed to see this again, and I thought I’d get into the first half even more. And, I did enjoy it all more, second time around. A solid 9/10 instead of 8.5. I felt things slowed down a bit during some of the couple scenes between Baby and Debora, but then they were also kinda necessary.
Writer/director Edgar Wright really *gets* those of us who ‘dance’ in the car while driving, by which I mean manouvering in time to the music as much as you can (safely) as well as looking around to beat.
As an aside, there was a bit of a niggle when a scene was changed from how it was in the trailer – the one where Baby is proving to Bats that he can still understand Doc’s words, despite wearing earphones and listening to Dave Brubeck’s Unsquare Dance. I can understand they’d cut this scene shorter for the trailer, and that it’s longer in the film – since no heist is ever that straight-forward, so will require longer explanation, but leaving out the *knock knock* on the table before Doc asks “Questions?”? That’s a real shame, as it added a nice bit of panache to that moment, especially as he was rubbing Bats’ face in it. You can see the trailer further down in this review (along with a video of the first six minutes, which features the opening car chase).
On more of an up, I took great delight in a couple of scenes with shoot-outs and driving combined, all to music (one featuring Hocus Pocus by Focus – the former sections making it feel like Free Fire: The Musical (kinda, and in the best possible way).
It’s interesting to note also that at times Baby uses an original iPod and at another time, a Sony Walkman, so he’s not exactly fully up to date with technology, but it seems to work for him.
Of course, it would’ve been nice to have two hours solid of fancy driving, as was kinds hinted at in the trailer, but then again, you also need a plot. When I saw this in the cinema I said, “I would love for the Blu-ray and DVD to include behind-the-scenes footage of the car chases”, and we do, indeed.
Watching this film again, I saw it knowing all the allegations levelled against Spacey. Now, the law states someone is innocent before being proved guilty, but I have to address the fact that Netflix have severed all ties with him over House of Cards, and this makes me wonder if Baby Driver will be the actor’s very last film, at least to get a cinema release, given that his other recent Sony project, Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World, has had him cut out of it and replaced with Christopher Plummer.
For those wondering if there’s any post-credit scenes, there aren’t, but as the final track ended, I loved how it was followed by the sound of a tape being rewound 🙂
On a final note, after ceasing as director on Ant-Man, Mr Wright said of the situation, “The most diplomatic answer is I wanted to make a Marvel movie but I don’t think they really wanted to make an Edgar Wright movie”. Well, based on everything I’ve seen from him to date, if there’s one thing that Marvel’s limping franchise needs, it’s a shot in the arm from Edgar Wright!
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and you’d be surprised if it was not a top-notch transfer for a brand new film, showing off the driving and drama to great effect, which is essential for Edgar Wright & co’s incredible work on this movie.
The 5.1 DTS HD-MA soundtrack certainly has a number of great scenes for the driving sound FX, but the highlight is the incredible soundtrack.
When you buy an Edgar Wright movie on Blu-ray and DVD, you know you’ll get a ton of extras, and this is no exception:
- Deleted and alternate Scenes (20:28): 11 in total, with some early ones featuring an alternate soundtrack which makes for a great addition.
There’s also a great deleted scene, “Cops and Robbers”, with music from Music for the Head Ballet by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, plus the original edit for a late scene featuring Brighton Rock. I don’t want to give any spoilers for that to anyone who hasn’t seen it, so I can safely say that it features a bit more chat from Kevin Spacey.
And I think the final deleted scene, with another original edit of a scene, was a better one than that used in the movie.
- Behind The Scenes (45:15): A fantastic extra that gives a great insight into the movie, beginning with how Edgar Wright first planned this 20 years ago, with the idea of setting a car chase to a cool track.
These are segmented into six parts focusing on Edgar Wright, the driving, the music, Doc’s gang, the choreography and the car chases.
- Selected scene animatics (35:42): Eight scenes in storyboard-type effect (including some duplicates in alternate versions), which was done to indicate exactly how the scene should be. They’re accompanied by the audio from the movie.
- Rehearsals and pre-production (17:03): This contains Ansel Elgort’s audition, the coffee run rehearsal plus hair, make-up and costume tests.
- Mint Royale: Blue Song (4:15): Music video with Nick Frost, The Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt, plus the brilliant Michael Smiley (Free Fire), and it’s the style on this which Edgar Wright used late for this movie’s opening scene.
- Complete storyboard gallery: In four parts with hundreds of storyboards. For some reason, this was the one extra for which I couldn’t quit back to the menu.
- Promos and more (21:10): Trailers, more music videos, and tons of little TV spots. 18 bits here altogether.
- Previews: These are for two trailers for other movies. I would name them, but since Sony chose to *also* put them BEFORE the main menu – like the old days of VHS rentals – I won’t.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Audio commentaries: Two, here: one from Edgar Wright on his own, and another where he’s joined by director of photograpy Bill Pope. I watched the latter for the opening scene and they clearly really enjoyed making the movie. When I get more time, I want to go back and hear more of this.
The menu features clips from the movie, the packshot graphic moving about a lot, and all to Bellbottoms by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, which is the movie’s opening track. There are 16 chapters and subtitles in 17 languages.
Running time: 112 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
Released: November 13th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD-MA 5.1, DTS 5.1
Languages: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English, Spanish), English Dolby Surround, 5.1: Czech, Hungarian, Polish
Subtitles: English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish
ormat: 2.35:1 (Dolby Vision, Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Edgar Wright
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Nira Park
Screenplay: Edgar Wright
Music: Steven Price
Baby: Ansel Elgort
Debora: Lily James
Doc: Kevin Spacey
Bats: Jamie Foxx
Buddy: Jon Hamm
Darling: Eiza González
Barista: Micah Howard
Griff: Jon Bernthal
Street Preacher: Morgan Brown
Joseph: CJ Jones
Baby’s Mom: Sky Ferreira
Baby’s Dad: Lance Palmer
Young Baby: Hudson Meek
Diner Waitress: Viviana Chavez
Cook: Hal Whiteside
JD: Lanny Joon
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.