Baby Driver was better than we think (and we think it’s very good)

Ansel Elgort is a good actor? The soundtrack was one of the best since Guardians of the Galaxy? Is that Jon Hamm? This one is fun.

Baby Driver | TriStar Pictures

On July 7, 2017, I didn’t have any plans. This was an important moment in my life as a twentysomething because I should have plans for a Friday night, but my inability to have a social life is another issue entirely. Anyway, I went to see Baby Driver. It was a relatively normal activity. But Baby Driver is not a relatively normal movie.

I knew absolutely nothing about the Edgar Wright-directed action flick other than what I just stated in this sentence. In today’s tech and social driven landscape, it’s very rare that I go into a movie completely blind. I’m not entirely sure if that had a positive or negative affect on my experience. I am sure that Baby Driver was a good movie. In fact, I think it was a great movie.

Hell, I literally could only tweet the 👌 emoji afterward.

It’s obvious at this point, several weeks after the movie’s release, that it’s a good movie. It’s got a 95% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (granted, Gravity has a 96% rating, but you see my point). Despite that, I really think we’re underrating it.

In recent years, the public has become more and more attentive of the scoring and composition of movies. We’re a tech-driven world, and the tech conversation has drifted into the arts. It’s had an effect on the way we view the Academy Awards, and it’s opened up a new avenue of film criticism that the general public can consume at large.

We may be in a legitimate Golden Age of television, but movies are in a strange place. Every year, more and more ideas are being rehashed and redone, much to the chagrin of the consumers of these pictures. We, as viewers, almost feel tricked into seeing things we’ve already seen and enjoyed with a fresh coat of paint. So when we stumble upon an original idea, it thrives. It’s like planting a bed of daisy seeds and getting roses. Baby Driver was a surprise rose.

The premise of the movie revolves around Ansel Elgort’s character, Baby, who serves as a getaway driver for Doc (Kevin Spacey) to settle a debt. Due to an accident as a child, Baby suffers from tinnitus, which causes him to hear constant ringing in his ears. To drown out the noise, he listens to music. He listens to music all the time.

And this dude has fucking great taste.

Bellbottoms, by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

The soundtrack to Baby Dirver is right up there with Guardians of the Galaxy in my e̶y̶e̶s̶ ears. Every single song is an absolute hit. They’re all winners. But aside from adding just the perfect tone and mood to every single scene in the film, the music’s relationship with Baby is the most unique part of the movie.

We hear the movie through Baby’s ears. We hear the songs he’s listening to. We watch as he sings and dances and drives to all of the songs. And most importantly, we hear the way they fit with the sounds of Baby’s world.

Enter: sound editing.

If this movie doesn’t win some sort of music/score related Oscar I may just finally become slightly more serious about my intent to stop watching the Oscars at some point. Every single sound, from doors closing to bullets firing, is incorporated into the musical landscape. It’s absolutely wonderful, and it made the movie feel like more of an experience than a task. Sitting in the theater, the blending of sounds to music put you into a place where you were not only being entertained but also enveloped. The ability to relate on an auditory level — everyone’s walked down the street listening to their favorite song or driven down a long straight road while jamming out to a classic — is something usually unexperienced at the movies. We’ve all imagined our music as a soundtrack to our lives, and Baby Driver connects with that both in visually and audibly. We literally watch as Baby chooses the soundtrack to his own life.

“I have different iPods for different days, different moods.”
- Baby

It’s a wonderful and fresh take on what I’d call a relatively newfound public love for music in movies. Obviously, we always recognize a great soundtrack, but Baby Driver’s ability to pull on our musical heartstrings in a way that I can’t recall being done this well before.

Other than the musical ingenuity, Ansel Elgort leads the movie in strong fashion, surprisingly convincing as a caring, morally sound person with a poorly managed work life. However great Elgort’s Baby is as a lead though, Jon Hamm’s Buddy is the epitome of what makes this movie great.

Hamm portrays a former (assumed) Wall Street suit who’s love for partying and drugs led him to hitch up with an unsavory woman and begin a life of crime. And he is electric. Buddy is Baby’s best ally outside of Doc, especially when Bats (Jamie Foxx) becomes a trigger problem. When a decision—or rather indecision — by Baby leads to the death of one of the crew, Buddy goes absolutely insane. Like, Euron Greyjoy insane. The soundtrack and his actions create an incredibly chaotic climax, and the stylishness of the final minutes of the movie alone make the entire trip more than worth it.

All in all, Baby Driver brought together an intelligent action-comedy with a phenomenal soundtrack and an all-star cast. It’s a fun trip to the movies, and it’s a fast-paced joyride (had to sneak in a pun). Ultimately, it was a great tapping into the timing of the arrival of the tech-film conversation and pulling on our inherited desire to connect with the music we listen to.

TL;DR: Baby Driver was dope, and 100 percent worth a trip the the theater. Jon Hamm shocks, Ansel Elgort is surprisingly great, and the soundtrack will knock you off your feet. Easily a killer.