Ten Thousand Bytes of Cinematic Critique
A young man named Baby works as a getaway driver to pay off a leading criminal in Atlanta. While he works, Baby listens to music. And, as director Edward Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) works, he sets the whole movie to music.I’ve said it before and I’ll likely say it again; Wright knows how to make a movie. I like all the performances, but Edgar’s technical acumen is the true star of this movie. All the musical flourishes and whimsical touches elevate a rote “last job” plotline into an elegant fairy tail with a shiny crime movie veneer. I think this movie features my favorite-ever Jamie Foxx performance. He steals every scene.If I have any criticism of this (and the last few Wright movies), it’s that the intricate craftsmanship can get in the way of forming a strong emotional connection with the characters. The movie never really “stops” long enough for an emotionally resonant moment. “Mom” flashbacks abound, but these come in the form of stylistic, functional flourishes that inform your understanding of Baby (rather than allow you to empathize with him). No one who watches this will ever shed a tear or connect on a personal level with the emotional content. Overall, the movie feels a little “too cool” to show you its feelings.Shaun of the Dead is probably the best Wright movie because it actually goes to an emotionally intense place. When Shaun’s mom starts dying and the movie gets serious, it completely catches the audience off-guard in a devastating and powerful way. That movie functions as genre parody, but it also doubles as the best zombie movie ever made. Why? Because we form intense emotional bonds with the characters and get rocked when things start to crumble for them.Baby Driver doesn't try to do that, which is fine. It keeps the movie from transcending, but you know what? There's nothing wrong with a slick bit of fun.
Oh yeah, I saw this over a month ago. Maybe I should share my thoughts. This was a very interesting concept for a movie, and although I was afraid it would just be a series of music videos connected by a flimsy plot, the story came together as time went on. Despite all the cliches and stereotypes of storytelling, Edgar Wright is a master of making those seem fresh, and it worked well here. Even Ansel Elgort (the character Baby) mostly worked, even though I'm baffled by whether he was supposed to be cool or whether he was a dork trying his best to be cool - either way, it was a bit flat. Do I buy him as a really good driver? Yes, I do, which is all that counts. This film also shows the proper way (read: the way I approve) to load your movie with pop songs from the past. James Gunn, take note. Or don't. You're doing OK in life.
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