My Thoughts on “Baby Driver”

I love that Edgar Wright made “Baby Driver,” the new car chase/heist/musical film that came out this week. It’s one of those movies where you know the director had a clear vision, and he had the drive, talent, and cast to make it happen. I’m fully confident that the result is what Wright wanted it to be.

That is, Wright wanted to put together a killer soundtrack and sync every cinematic beat to every beat of every song. Great idea, great songs, great execution.

However, there’s one big problem for me: There are way too many scenes–especially at the beginning–that do nothing other than show a character listening to a song. These scenes don’t advance the story or reveal information about the characters. We’re literally just watching someone listening to music.

It’s the extreme version of what I discussed in my post about Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (and in the first scene of La La Land). In those movies, I felt like the movie was a vehicle for featuring music instead of the music complementing and enhancing the movie.

I think if those scenes in Baby Driver had come later in the movie, maybe they wouldn’t have had such a drastic impact on my impression of the film. But one is the beginning of the very first scene, and another is the entire second scene. Both are scenes of the main character listening to music. Do people want to watch that?

All of that said, the car chases are fantastic (though hopefully you haven’t seen the trailer, because the best moment of the best car chases are already in the trailer), and each of the actors has some great moments.

What’s your favorite Edgar Wright movie? What did you think of Baby Driver?


8 Responses to “My Thoughts on “Baby Driver””

  1. RodeoClown says:

    Have you seen “Spaced”, the BBC (I think) series he did with Nick Frost and Simon Pegg before Shaun of the Dead?

    It’s amazing.

    Haven’t seen Baby Driver, and hadn’t even heard of it before this week! I know Wright makes very deliberate choices in how he directs, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a very definite reason for including those musical scenes, that you wouldn’t really notice, but wouldn’t get the same effect if they weren’t there. In fact, his deliberateness is why whenever I watch one of his movies, as soon as it ends, I turn around and watch it again with the director’s commentary (or three commentaries in the case of Scott Pilgrim – I watched that four times in a row, it was so fascinating).

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I haven’t watched Spaced–thanks for the recommendation!

      That’s interesting to hear about how deliberate he is. I can see that in other aspects of his movies, but I struggled to understand the point of the two scenes at the beginning. Let me know if you catch something when you watch it. 🙂

  2. Andy Bradford says:

    I felt that the second scene was a little overindulgent and unnecessary after the opening scene but I’m not sure I’d agree that it would have been less noticeable later in the film. Having it as scene 2 sets the tone for the film but any scene like that later in the film would break up the momentum that had been built up.

    On the whole I was very impressed with the film and will definitely watch it again. I couldn’t agree more with your comment “Great idea. Great songs. Great execution”

    Oh and it’s difficult to pick between Edgar Wright films as they are so varied but Scott Pilgrim was where he showed me that he has more to give than just a remodel of spaced in film form (although I love spaced and the cornet to trilogy).

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Andy: I like that you brought up momentum, and I agree. There’s a brilliant car chase right at the beginning, and then we get 3-minutes musical scene about walking around with coffee? I think it could have been cut down to 5-10 seconds.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the movie, though. I had fun watching Scott Pilgrim too.

      • I think the coffee scene was important because you see him moving around the world in his element. People are happy, moving around, dancing even. All is right. Then he sees Debora, which was ultimately change everything for him, but in the scene, it throws him off his game. He’s befuddled with the coffee, comes out to see an officer which he has to shy away from, his actions are more rigid, and he’s looking over his shoulder. Even the people in the street are now angry and closed off as he passes by. The whole world around him changes as he moves through the scene, going from the happy go lucky character we meet in the opening car scene, to the one who will ultimately be cautious, concerned, and off his game as the movie goes on. Foreshadowing for the entire movie built up in that one musical scene.

        Though I will grant, it’s maybe a bit too long.

        • Jamey Stegmaier says:

          Kellen: Thanks for sharing this! I hadn’t noticed that tonal shift when he saw Debora. That’s a very acute observation!

  3. I thought this was the best film to hit theaters since Fury Road. Those two opening scenes are actually my favorites of the film.

    I think those two particular moments (Baby in the car and Baby walking to get coffee) are really pure cinematic experiences. They don’t speak to story but they speak to emotion and sort of laying the contextualized groundwork. They set the rules and lay down expectations. When I saw Baby dancing in his seat and getting his groove on, I knew the film was going to be special.

    I totally understand why someone wouldn’t be into that, but from a cinematography perspective they were visual treats. Baby Driver is overflowing with style.

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