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Updated: 2017.11.20 21:48
 
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Baby Driver: Stylish Yet Old-fashioned
[ Issue 157 Page 14 ] Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 01:59:38 Chanyoung Ryu Staff Reporter chandescartes@kaist.ac.kr

If you have seen any of Edgar Wright’s previous films, you would have been looking forward to his latest movie, Baby Driver. If you have yet to see it, what are you waiting for? This wild, 120-minute action-comedy ride will have you clenching onto your seat, begging for a seatbelt.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the best driver in town who listens to his tunes to fuel his sensational driving. Due to his past mistakes, he works under crime lord Doc (Kevin Spacey) as a getaway driver in heists. However, he knows he does not belong in this life and wants to get away. After falling in love with Debora (Lily James), he decides to leave his criminal lifestyle and head west with her — just after one last job. But things do not go as planned.

The movie starts with Baby and his team going off to another heist. With “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion playing in the background and the movements of every thief synchronized to the beat, Baby waits in the car as the rest load their guns and barge into the bank. If it were any other heist movie, Baby would be biting his nails with drops of sweat condensing on his forehead. But Wright tells us that this movie is different. Baby bursts into song, lip-syncing and tapping as if it is just him and his music in the world. However, Baby is not unwary. As soon as his team comes rushing out, he turns on the engine and takes us on a rollercoaster ride.

In six minutes, Wright tells us exactly what to expect in the next 110: great tunes from the past few decades, insane chase sequences that will pump up anyone in the crowd, and a seamless synchronization between the two through masterful editing. The tone he sets is paradoxically attractive — one of lightheartedness through the music, combined with the tension inherent in the genres of crime and heist. Our expectations are not broken, at least for the first half of the movie. Humor in one moment, say where Baby has to get the right track on his iPod before he starts driving, is almost immediately replaced by a nerve-wracking car chase with guns fired from both sides. Wright proves his genius by impeccably integrating the three separate genres of action, comedy, and music.

The magic of this movie comes from another paradoxical aspect of its tone. The fast-paced nature of the action coupled with the music creates a stylish, modern feeling, almost like a music video. Yet, at the same time, there is definitely an old-fashioned charm that stems from various roots — Baby’s antique cassette recorder and iPod classic, the romance between Baby and Debora, and, of course, the choice of music. This creates a unique atmosphere that is rare amongst others of its genre and truly labels Baby Driver as one of a kind.

A pleasant surprise that I was not expecting was the romance. Although I did not realize it at first, I found myself caring deeply for their relationship, despite how stereotypical their rendezvous were. Both characters had a similar past and desperate present that allowed them to form a genuine connection. Another interesting relationship was that of Doc and Baby. While Baby was coerced into working with Doc, it was not one of complete usurpation. Rather, there was a level of respect Doc gave to Baby, and even though Baby’s name might suggest it, Doc did not treat him like a child.

There are a few flaws, but they did not distract from the huge blast I had with this movie. The latter half is a bit messy and I wished to see more riveting chase scenes. Some strange choices were made by Baby, Doc, and Buddy, one of the thieves on the team, that seemed out of character. On the bright side, the story took a completely unexpected turn due to these choices. I was confident that things were about to go awry, and they did — but not in the way I had expected. Lastly, Bats, played by Jamie Foxx, was annoying throughout the movie — not the character itself, but rather Foxx’s acting. His speech and mannerisms did not convince me that he was the traumatized lunatic he was supposed to be.

Overall, Baby Driver is one heck of an experience with a style of its own. If you enjoy fast-paced action, this movie is for you. If you love movies with great soundtracks, this movie is for you. If you like immaculate editing and visuals, this movie is for you. So why not buckle up for the hottest ride in theaters?

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