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Muscle Car UK’s Baby Driver Film Review

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Elise

Written by Elise

11th January 2021

Muscle Car UK’s Baby Driver Film Review
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Muscle Car UK’s Baby Driver Film Review

By Niamh Smith

When I first walked out of the cinema after seeing Baby Driver, I immediately declared it my new favourite film. The combination of an amazing soundtrack, perfect for an old soul like me, along with engine-revving high-action scenes just made for such a good watch, so much so that I went and saw it a second time on the big screen.

Three years on, my love for it hasn’t dwindled and it still gives me a secondhand adrenaline rush even though I’m not in the passenger seat next to Baby, but it feels like I am. In this Baby Driver film review, I’ll talk you through my favourite things about the film, how well it was received by critics and the public alike, and why this film should make it onto your next movie night ‘to watch’ list. Grab the popcorn.

Baby. B-A-B-Y: Baby. 

Baby Driver, starring Ansel Elgort) is a genre mashup; part good old-fashioned heist movie, part comedy, part romance, part action, part musical… yep, you read that right. The director, Edgar Wright, describes it himself as more of an ‘action musical’ than ‘just an action film’. It ticks a lot of boxes that’s for sure. Add in a couple of classic cars and other high-performance modern cars it ticks even more boxes for many including myself and you.

It revolves around Baby (Ansel Elgort). Spoiler: he’s not an infant. Baby is a young getaway driver who owes a debt to sharp-tongued Doc (Kevin Spacey). Working with various quirky bank robbers and criminals, including those played by Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, Baby skillfully though reluctantly assists in money heists, until he meets a girl who changes everything for him: Debbie (Lily James). 

To add to Baby’s quiet nature and make him even more of an outsider to the people he is forced to work with, he listens to music on his selection of iPods 24/7 to drown out the ‘hum in the drum’ (tinnitus) that has affected him since he was in a car accident as a child. 

Baby Driver Reception

Baby Driver premiered at the South by Southwest festival on March 11th 2017 and was released in cinemas on June 28th 2017. 

Since then, it has received positive feedback from critics and fans alike, receiving three Oscar nominations, winning a BAFTA for Best Editing and an Empire award for Best Soundtrack (no surprises there then). It gets 4 stars on IMDb and 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has also grossed $226.9 million in the box office. 

One only has to take a quick look at the comment section of the trailer on YouTube to know why people love it so much; most people praise the clever one-liners and soundtrack as well as the general action of the film, while another recalls, “This movie had our whole theatre applauding, gasping, and cheering. One of the best original action movies Hollywood has done in years.”  High praise indeed!

For those begging for a sequel, part 2 is rumoured to be in the works, so hold onto that!

Even the critics mostly enjoyed it; Mark Kermode writing for the Guardian says it ‘hits all the right notes’, while Terri White for Empire says it’s ‘sweet, funny and utterly original — you won’t see a film like it this year’.

Is Baby Driver Worth Watching? Baby Driver Film Review 

Yes, yes and yes again! 

It is clear that everything in this film has been meticulously thought through, from the music choice to the choreography. It is particularly obvious in scenes such as at the beginning where Baby is picking up coffee while listening to Harlem Shuffle by Bob & Earl, with portions of the lyrics appearing in graffiti on the walls as he dances through the streets. 

The best choreography scenes are during violent shootouts where the characters fire rounds to the beats of the music; hats off to Wright! In order to pull the perfect choreography, Wright said that “the key is actually not that it is edited to the music, but more crucially it’s choreographed to the music.”

And finally, I know I keep banging on about it, but the soundtrack is phenomenal. I now even own it on vinyl and it’s one of my most played records. It has stonking 60s soul tunes on (The Detroit Emeralds, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas), punk rock (The Damned), glam rock (T Rex, or ‘Trex’ as Baby mispronounces them) as well as chaotic symphonies such as Intermission by Blur and Hocus Pocus by Focus.

Of course, like any good heist movie, some badass getaway vehicles are needed: these include a Subaru Impreza WRX (the hero car and the one you’ll probably have seen in the trailers), a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, a 1989 Chevy Caprice, a 1958 Edsel Pacer and a 1979 Lincoln Continental. 

Edgar Wright, Baby Driver’s director, reportedly acquired over 150 cars to use in the filming, and it is clear that every car was chosen for a reason and in some cases modified for the filming

What I particularly like about the choice of vehicles in the movie is that they are all cars that you could genuinely find on the streets; they haven’t used, say, a Shelby GT350 Ford Mustang as that is something that you have a slim chance of seeing in public. You would, however, have every chance of finding a purple Lincoln Continental driven by an old lady, like in the film. I later found out that Edgar Wright went online and found a list of most common stolen cars, and then wrote some into his script. Originally, he wrote the hero car as a Toyota Corolla (about as nondescript as you can get) but then swapped it for the Impreza when the studio asked for something a little sexier. 

Several of the Subaru Imprezas used in filming have come up for sale, including one in July 2020 and one in 2017 which sold for $69,000. These Subarus were specially adapted by Allpro Subaru in Georgia and given 300BHP WRX STI drivetrains, hydraulic handbrakes and new front and rear diffs, to name just a few of the modifications. Who knows, next time one comes up for sale, if you get carried away while bidding you could have your own Baby Driver car. 

The car chase scenes are particularly commendable. While they’re not quite a 30 minute Gone in 60 Seconds car chase they’re very cleverly done, and are packed full of action. Some moments have you on the edge of your seat, such as when the heist team gets stuck sideways under a moving semi-truck trailer. Again, the choreography of these action sequences have been really thought about, and the fact that they keep changing cars to try and shake off the law keeps the pace of the getaway scenes moving.   

My only criticism of this film is that some parts are ever so slightly ‘cheesy’; I find some of Jamie Foxx’s character’s lines particularly cringe-worthy (“The moment you catch feelings is the moment you catch a bullet”… ick). 

Despite this, because Wright has thought about everything in this film I can’t help but wonder if this is just a play on the stereotypical characters that you’d find in a heist movie. As it’s also part-musical, this exaggeration of the typical roles is to perhaps enhance the juxtaposition of the overly ‘gangster’ character with the humour of the musical theme, so no need too mad about the cheesiness. After all, it’s not a musical if it’s not got a little bit of cheese in it, right?

To Summarise…

Baby Driver, while not being explicitly a film about cars, is great for car fans. The stunts and handbrake turns expertly executed throughout the film will make you want to go to your local empty supermarket car park and do some donuts like you’re 17 again. 

Not many Hollywood films make you want to do that, so this is something special. It’s just the right blend of genres to appeal to many different types of people, and perhaps that’s why it gets such good reviews. Mixing action, romance and humour is a talent, but something that Wright pulls off flawlessly in Baby Driver. It will make you go bananas; B-A-N-A-N-A-S. 

Author: Niamh Smith


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