Anyone who has mistakenly got me talking about favorite films knows who my favorite director is. It’s Edgar Wright. This is no secret. And it was obvious from the start I was going to enjoy his latest project, Baby Driver, but what was not obvious from the start was just how much I would enjoy it. Believe the hype, believe the critics, and believe me. This is one of the most original, catchy, and creative films you will ever see.
*** Warning: This post will probably contain spoilers.
Go see Baby Driver for yourself, then come back ***
I have been a fan of Edgar Wright ever since I first saw Shaun of the Dead at a zombie crawl in 2006, and from there my brother and I have dug into all his past work and followed every new project he was involved with. I love Wright’s work because of the love he puts into it. The attention to detail is incredible, the homages are always perfection, and everything is just so. damn. clever. You can watch his films over and over, and still catch something new each time. I really recommend watching How To Do Visual Comedy, Make Your Transitions Count, and The Art of Close-Ups, all on or with Edgar Wright, if you haven’t already to see just how great he is at what he does.
Around 2015 I read that Wright’s next project would be Baby Driver, an original script about a getaway driver set to music. That’s all I knew. It’s all I had to know. It was a Wright film, and it would heavily feature music? I was instantly sold based on how much I liked his past fusions of music and film. I knew I would love it. In April 2017 I was able to attend a free advanced Sony screening of the film. My friends and I were ready to burst with excitement. The opening scene alone, with Ansel Elgort’s Baby jamming in the car to “Bellbottoms” showed me where the film came from before – the Wright directed music video for “Blue Song” by Mint Royale. The second the windshield wipers went on, my brother and I shared a look of “fuck yes” in the theatre. For the next almost two hours I was absolutely captivated – sometimes left breathless – by what I was watching. I laughed hard, I worried for the characters, I danced in my seat to killer tracks. The film sped by, almost as fast as Baby on I-85, and before I knew it I had experienced Baby Driver. As evidenced by this before and after side-by-side, my mind was blown:
While in London working a music festival in May, I saw that Edgar Wright would be appearing at the Vulture Festival later that month – so I quickly bought tickets from the back of a taxi in Camden Town. That panel was incredible, because it looked at Wright’s career since Spaced and great musical moments throughout that span. As my brother and I were leaving, we actually spotted Wright on the sidewalk leaving as well. He graciously allowed us to take a selfie with him (above). Our fantastic day was made even better.
I genuinely could not stop thinking about Baby Driver in the weeks that followed that free screening. This meant I could not stop talking about it, as well. To avoid spoiling it for anyone, I was pretty much just constantly yelling “it’s so good” over and over. To my surprise and delight, friends and followers around the world told me they were going to check out the film because I loved it so much. The ones that have seen it so far and have spoken to me all agree: it’s so damn good. Even though I have no stake in this film, I am just a fan of Wrights, it thrills me that people are seeing it and falling in love the way I have.
This month, I bought tickets to an additional three screenings of Baby Driver, each with a Q&A with Wright afterward. These repeat viewings allowed me to become more engrossed in the story and world that he created. In true Wright fashion, the more you watch, the more you notice. Baby Driver is such a perfect culmination of everything I love about his work. There is not one second wasted, the timing of everything is perfect (it had no choice but to be when it’s all set to the music), the transitions and close-ups are part of his signature style, and everything is said or done with a purpose. Besides that, I loved that we had a badass action hero who throughout the film used American Sign Language. I especially loved the way Wright used Baby’s tinnitus. It’s one thing to say he has this issue, it’s another thing to let the audience hear the ringing he hears when he is without his music – and it’s no coincidence that it is during heightened and stressful moments of the film, adding drastically to the dread and suspense we feel. The first time I saw it, I didn’t breathe during some of those moments.
I don’t doubt that I still have more things to notice (and please tell me if you caught something I missed, I’m not big on heist films so I bet I am still missing some homages!) but here’s just some of the things that stood out, or that I learned in the Q&As: Baby repeats almost everything he hears – from other people, and the TV; on the TV for a moment is the beginning of the “Blue Song” music video; on the TV is a bull who is “bloody and relentless, but keeps coming back” (paraphrasing) – this is alluding to Buddy at the end of the film; Big Boi and Killer Mike are with Doc in the restaurant when he picks up Baby’s tab; when the title appears during the opening credits, there’s a double yellow line like on the road; Baby and Debora steal the ATL Twins’ car; while pointing out their cocaine habit, Bats orders Coca Cola’s for the table; “Hollaback Girl” is listed in the song credits even though a line is only quoted by Darling; Baby’s inmate number is the release date of The Driver in DD/MM/YYYY format; Jon Spencer is the prison guard who hands Baby his letter; Paul Williams is the Butcher; Walter Hill is the voice of the courtroom interpreter for Joseph; Joe Loya is the security guard Bats shoots, he is an ex-con Wright interviewed, and was a script consultant for the film; Doc twice mentions a friend with a nasal problem – is he referencing Eddie No-Nose?; Darling’s last name is Costello and Bats’ is Jefferson – I’m wondering if these are references to other musicians / music groups? (I still can’t remember what Buddy’s last name was off the top of my head).
As I type this, I’m listening to the soundtrack. With each song, I can perfectly recall each scene it goes with. The actions that accompany each beat. To the point where it feels wrong there aren’t gun shots in “Bellbottoms”, someone stacking money to “Egyptian Reggae”, or windshield wipers to “Intermission”. It is just hit after hit, from songs I already adored to songs I now can’t get out of my head. I can’t wait for my vinyl to arrive.
Baby Driver is a hell of a lot of fun – and it genuinely some of the most fun I’ve had at a movie theatre, ever. If you like action films, see it. If you care about music in the slightest, see it. Go on, get some Junior Mints, see the film everyone is talking about, and tell me what I may have missed. In the meantime, I’ll eagerly await my 5th viewing of Baby Driver.