‘Baby Driver’ (2017)
Guest writer Jamie Warwick reflects on Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, and how it’s a film you watch as much with your ears as you do your eyes.
Edgar Wright’s action packed, car chasing, love story hit cinemas in June and amassed a strong collection of positive reviews. A cast that boasts both seasoned cinematic veterans, and the next wave of Hollywood stars; Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx take this film from an indie idea to a big box office experience, with the soundtrack to match.
What quickly became noticeable is that this film is much cleverer and much quicker than the standard of action movie that has been released in recent years. When you think of a car-based action movie, the mind may go straight to the Fast and Furious franchise, or maybe even the Michael Bay disappointment that is Transformers (*shudder*). Films of that stature come with huge budgets including a CGI bill that would feed a family of four for 300 years.
But what Baby Driver lacks in cinematic expenditure, it makes up for in subtle details and a soundtrack that would make anyone want to dig out their old iPod classic, blow the dust and cobwebs away, and listen to the tracks they loved 10 years ago. Not many times has a soundtrack been as critically acclaimed as the film itself. Some films have the one big song which stands out from the rest – the James Bond Theme tune, My Heart Will Go On, or that Aerosmith track about a gigantic space rock. Baby Driver however makes the soundtrack the star of the show, not once, not twice, but throughout.
Here are the top 5 tracks which make this film not just a visual spectacle, but will keep your ears ringing for more:
‘Bellbottoms’ – The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
If you’re going to start a film with a song, it’s got to be a song that gets you on the hook as quickly as possible. ‘Bellbottoms’ is a song which as soon as the needle hits the record makes you want to jump in a car and drift round some corners (Do not try this at home). Elgort gives a perfect portrayal of a parked driver dancing and singing to one of his favourite tunes, something we have all done at one time or another, maybe excluding the air violin. Where the song comes into its own is when the driving, and the fun, really starts. Crazy drifting, insane manoeuvres and more traffic violations than when your Nan gives you a lift to the shops. A real strap in and get ready kind of start.
Interesting Fact: Check out the music video for Mint Royale’s track ‘Blue Song’. Wright’s first attempt at this concept roughly 15 years earlier with some actors you will definitely recognise. Goes to show, if you’ve got a good idea, stick with it.
‘Harlem Shuffle’ – Bob & Earl
As stated in interviews and comments, the soundtrack for this movie came way before the script. In this scene, Baby is tasked with picking up a coffee order, but, in true Baby Driver style, he moves, dances and walks in time to the song. The lyrics are even shown throughout his walk on signs, in shop windows and various other forms, a very clever touch to a scene that, on paper, doesn’t sound very memorable. I now dare you to see this film, listen to this song on the walk home, and not do some form of slide at some point.
‘B-A-B-Y’ – Carla Thomas
Another scene that is choreographed to absolute perfection. The feeling of euphoria which comes from talking to that girl which you haven’t had the guts to talk to. Thinking back to other big musical films (very loosely classing this film as a musical), Elgort plays a very similar role to that of Ryan Gosling in La La Land. Very quiet and does more talking with his movements (from dancing in his lounge to making a car go sideways) than he does his voice. The silent acting from both Elgort, and his adoptive carer Joseph, is lovely to watch with the often unbelievable dialogue of people talking about their new crush removed for dance and sign language.
‘Easy’ – Sky Ferreira
This is a song which is mentioned throughout the film but is only heard for a very short period. The tape which this features on is protected by Baby like his life depends on it. A beautiful cover and is a stark contrast to the Commodores version used earlier in the film. Has a much more sombre and heart breaking vibe. A real tear jerker.
Interesting Fact: Sky Ferreira also appears in the film, playing Baby’s mother.
“Was He Slow?” – Kid Koala
One of the little forgotten gems of this film. This isn’t a big, orchestral number, nor a huge rock song or speaker shaking rap track. The scene showing Baby creating this song is both, fast paced, methodical and very engaging. Imagine watching Daft Punk or Disclosure create their music and seeing it filmed, edited and mastered in a scene which lasts around 30 seconds. Completely original and very watchable, Kevin Spacey can do, or say, no wrong.
Baby Driver puts you in the car, buckles you up and literally slams down the accelerator from minute one to the very end. You’ll gasp, laugh and possibly even cry multiple times throughout, but, all in all, you’ll walk out extremely satisfied and you’ll definitely wear your Aviators or Wayfarers on the way home. 5 stars, without a doubt.
Author: Jamie Warwick.