Review: Baby Driver

Edgar Wright speeds away with one of the best films of the summer

Advertisements

Not since his cinematic debut in 1995 with A Fistful of Fingers has Edgar Wright been the sole credited writer on one of his films. Baby Driver, a crime caper set to the beat of the getaway driver’s iPod, is an idea that dates back to that very same year. The 22 year delay between inception and release is a blessing, allowing him to refine his technique. The result is one of the best films this summer.

When Baby (Answel Elgort), a young getaway driver from Atlanta, was young his parents were killed in a tragic car crash. He was lucky to walk away but has suffered from severe tinnitus ever since. To drown out the ringing in his ears he listens to music on a wide range of iPods, presumably from the cars he has stolen. One of those cars belonged to mastermind criminal Doc (Kevin Spacey) and Baby has been paying him back ever since by driving on his jobs.

Wright wastes no time in getting down to it, we open to Baby and his team pulling up to a bank. The camera cuts to his iPod and he presses play on The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s hit song Bellbottoms. From this moment on every movement is to the beat, even the gunshots and shouts. Rather than watch the robbery unfold we see Baby lipsync and dance away, almost ignorant to what his team is doing. Contrary to what Elgort’s recent song release might suggest, he isn’t a thief.

Once they get back to their headquarters, Doc distributes the money equally and they head their separate ways. Jon Bernthal, who plays one of the crew, was a top-billed actor whose name appears on every poster. As they leave he says “If you don’t see me again, it’s because I’m dead”. His character is not seen again during the film. It’s small details like these that keep viewers coming back, hoping to spot something new each time.

Baby finishes paying his debt back after the next heist and he wants out. No longer does Doc have leverage on him. He is free to live his life on his own terms, even meeting a waitress at a diner called Debora (Lily James) and falling in love. Naturally Doc won’t let him go that easily, having never failed a job when he has been driving. The promise of an equal cut of the earnings doesn’t sway him, but rather unsurprisingly the threat to kill his girlfriend and foster father makes him fall back into line. The next target? A post office.

Later on in the film when the relationship between Baby and Debora is established, they are always seen wearing black and white outfits. Their romance has a timeless feel because of this, especially when juxtaposed with the bright outfits of his fellow crew, especially Jamie Foxx. His outfits are mostly red, symbolic of his tendency to kill or threaten to kill just about every person he meets.

Baby Driver is overflowing with slick car chases, snappy dialogue and pop culture references all set to a meticulously edited to a fantastic soundtrack. My only quibble is fatigue. Two hours of constantly tapping your foot and nodding your head is simply exhausting, who knew.

Review: Horrible Bosses

Life is a marathon and you cannot win a marathon without putting a few bandaids on your nipples!

Horrible Bosses is really not a good movie. At best it’s passable but even then that is perhaps too kind. If you are looking for a good movie then look away. However if you’re looking for a recycled comedy with bland characters and tasteless humour then congratulations, because you have come to the right place.

The plot is simple, maybe too simple to justify a feature length film. Three best friends (played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) enjoy their jobs except for one major problem, their bosses. Each, played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell respectively, make their individual lives so unbearable that they decide the ONLY way to be happy is to murder them. These white collar workers obviously have no idea how to go about this and seek help from a ‘professional’ (Jamie Foxx).

Now there are issues that can be gleaned straight of the bat from the synopsis alone without actually watching the film. For example the only black actor in the leading seven is playing the role of an ex-con. Obviously anything else would be a stretch of the imagination and not one the producers thought the audience could manage. It must be said though that there are two other black characters in the film in the roles of police officers. You know, because having double of those makes up for it, right? With Charlie Day in the cast as well you are sure to get lots of weak sexual and generally vulgar gags masked as ‘funny’ by his constant shouting.

Having six (seven if you count Jamie Foxx) main characters makes it difficult to explore any in real depth. We find out the odd detail like Day’s character being engaged but for the most part we know nothing about them. If the writers don’t care enough about them to add any backstory then how am I supposed to care about their troubles.

hero_EB20110706REVIEWS110709993AR

The ‘villains’ of the film feel like nothing more than exagerrated stock characters. Kevin Spacey plays the overused role of a pretentious office manager, but taken so far that it is almost like a pantomime. Jennifer Aniston is nothing more than eye candy in her nymphomaniacal role and Colin Farrell is just a homophobic cokehead. All three are great actors who are not utilised in any way, shape or form which was incredibly disappointing.

The worst aspect of the film though is without a doubt the humour. It attempts to follow the success of crude films like ‘The Hangover’ but fails dramatically through the severe over-reliance on crass sex jokes. It’s like the writers threw a bunch of sexual, homophobic, racist and drug related gags in without any real aims whatsoever hoping some would receive cheap laughs.

The only feeling I have towards this film is sympathy. Sympathy to the actors who did their best with an empty plot and weak script. Sympathy for the audience who hoped for a good movie, and sympathy to the people who get dragged along to the sequel.