Film Review: Baby Driver

Story by Alexis Gomes, Staff Writer

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Baby Driver, a summer 2017 blockbuster, is an action-crime-musical hybrid that presents a fast-paced and thrilling plot without sacrificing essential emotional undertones.

The film has been the brainchild of director Edgar Wright for over two decades. It follows young getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) who lives in Atlanta with his deaf foster father, Joseph (CJ Jones). He is a talented driver, who has been cursed with tinnitus since the death of his parents in a car accident, so he listens to music on his iPod constantly to drown out the ringing. He began working in the business to settle a debt he had with the boss, Doc (Kevin Spacey), but was forced to continue after the debt was repaid for fear of retaliation upon Joseph and his girlfriend, Debora (Lily James). He reluctantly stays, working alongside Doc’s “crew”: Buddy (Jon Hamm), Buddy’s wife Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), and Batz (Jamie Foxx).

The climax of the film occurs when a bank heist goes sour. Baby had planned to escape Atlanta and his life of crime with Debora, but Batz had discovered his plan and forced him to return and complete the plan. During the heist, Baby accidentally kills Batz, and the three of them escape on foot. A shoutout between Buddy, Darling, and the police occur, in which Darling dies. Baby leaves the scene, drops his father off at an elderly home, and goes to the diner where Debora works to pick her up, only to see Buddy sitting at the counter with a gun. Buddy chases Baby and Debora when they leave the diner, and there is a final violent scene in which both Doc and Buddy die at the hands of Baby.

Baby and Debora are seen driving down a road when they encounter a police blockade, and Baby is arrested for his crimes. The movie ends with a montage of Baby’s trial, with witnesses — a woman he met during his escape, Debora, and Joseph — testifying on his behalf, and a postcard from Debora being read out from his prison cell. The final scene shows Baby leaving prison, greeted by Debora.

A key element of Baby Driver is the sound behind it. Every car turn, door slam, footstep, and gunshot in this film is set perfectly to the soundtrack behind it. In certain scenes, words in the song playing are graffitied on the walls as the character passes. When Baby does not have headphones in, there is a distinct ringing noise that blocks the volume, as if the audience is perceiving the world as Baby is. The ringing of his tinnitus goes away when he speaks to Debora, communicating how much he loves her, but returns as soon as she leaves the scene.  Baby Driver was nominated for 3 Oscars, Film Editing, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing, related to the film’s usage of sound and music to further the story and add substance. These details, although they can be perceived as minute, are unique to the film and make it more than a classic getaway action film.

The emotional depth in the film does not only apply to music. There are three notable characters in the film who shape Baby’s decision making and mean a lot to him: his mother, who he watched die as a child; Debora; and Joseph. Although not the main focus of the film, it is heartbreaking when he’s forced to sacrifice his relationship with Joseph by dropping him off, and when he must leave Debora upon his arrest. Furthermore, when Buddy shoots Baby’s ears, it is a tragic moment because he will never be able to listen to music again, one of the only things that keeps him going.

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