Baby Driver is the kind of film that begs for multiple viewings, even if you weren’t exactly hot on it the first time around.
I admit, my feelings on Edgar Wright’s latest were lukewarm when I saw the movie earlier this summer, when the hype train was barreling full-steam ahead. Initially, the film struck me as a shallow play on the heist genre, with too little characterization to really connect with me. Having rewatched the film a couple of times now, I’m not ashamed to admit that I was wrong, oh so wrong.
Subsequent viewings opened the film up to me, revealing the true depth and complexity of Wright’s deceptively simple narrative. Wright, of course, is a filmmaker for whom quirk is bread and butter. His Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End were all brilliantly irreverent deconstructions of popular genre staples. Scott Pilgrim vs the World was an ingenious (and underrated) attempt at expanding the romantic comedy beyond its traditional boundaries and updating the form for a new generation.
Wright has an uncanny ability at playing within genre sandboxes and redefining what we know about the genres. Whether he’s exploring a world of zombies or a world rooted in video game tropes and mythology, you can bet he’ll dig deep and find the heart and humanity in whatever story he’s trying to tell, regardless the genre he’s playing with.
With Baby Driver, Wright has successfully deconstructed what it means to be a high-octane action film. What I initially dismissed as trite is actually a meta-critique on the genre itself. The beats are familiar and predictable, but that’s not what matters here. Here, Wright is using the familiarity of the form to tell a different story—one of love, rather than destruction.
The titular Baby of Baby Driver is played by Ansel Elgort; like most villains-with-a-heart-of-gold, he’s doing his best to remove himself from The Life, though circumstances conspire to keep pulling him back in. This is especially problematic after meeting Debora (Lily James), with whom he envisions the possibility of life on the straight and narrow. Anxious to start a new life away from crime, Baby is pulled back for one final, dangerous job and is forced to keep it together as the best laid plans begin to fall apart.
Wright’s use of music is the driving force of Baby Driver, almost to the point where the film becomes a musical. Many of the scenes are filmed and choreographed as if it were a song and dance movie, though I do still wish that Wright had leaned a little farther into that realm. Still, those does allow the director to play around with his shots and scenes and create a visually dynamic film that reveals new layers with every rewatch.
That alone is enough to add Baby Driver to your collection, but the home release is also jam packed with special features that reveal more about this wild film. Wright himself contributes to two commentary tracks, one solo and one with cinematographer Bill Pope, and there is nearly a half hour of special features that takes apart all aspects of the making of Baby Driver, including some fascinating looks at the music of the film (and, really, Baby Driver has one of the best soundtracks ever produced) and an examination of the car chases of the film.
Baby Driver’s home release is an amazing package of a stunning film, one that I unfairly shrugged off initially. It’s a lot easier to take in away from the hype that drove the film’s initial release, and having seen it several times now, I’m now much more in line with Christian Long’s earlier assessment at this year’s SXSW. This is a must own film, and truly is one of the most fun movies to come along in a few years. Sorry for doubting you, Edgar. Thanks for setting me straight.
Baby Driver is now available to own on DVD and Blu-ray.