Baby is not slow. He might seem slow, but he moves at speed to the beat of his own drum. Edgar Wright’s passion project is a mix of high-revolution, gear shredding getaways so sweetly and precisely intertwined with a fantastic soundtrack backbeat that completely captivates.
The LACMA’s appreciative audience began by applauding as soon as the Pegasus Logo showed up on the screen and continued to noisily approve the Northern Soul backed set pieces and the belly laughs. The movie delivers a confident balance of laughs, dancing and clutch melting car chases, with plenty of bang.
After the showing, Wright, the English Writer/Director and brains behind the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy twinkled his way though a 20 year virtual road trip of the movie’s pre-production with the innocent joy of a five year old who’s just been to the toyshop.
He tells the story of how the movie developed over time, including the first script from 1997, an early attempt which became a music video and a road trip he made from New York to LA while listening to state specific artists some of which were used in the final production.
A highlight of the Q & A was the quasi-unplanned participation of technical consultant, Joe Loya, an ex con, who robbed 30 banks and had provided Wright with insight into the domain. Clearly comfortable with each other, Wright and Loya took turns to upstage with anecdotes from their past (Loya), the making of the movie (Wright) and their first meeting (both).
Loya’s best shtick centered around his after robbery music tastes. Early in his career, he figured Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson was a good choice, but then he realized the subject matter wasn’t appropriate for a noble Robin Hood and instead decided to zone out to the post coital Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd for the next 28 heists.
But back to the movie – The movie jump starts with a Bond-esque opening action sequence, controlled with consummate aplomb by Ansel Elgort as the eponymous Baby, who chauffeurs robbers to work off a debt to the insidious Doc, played by the permanently peerless Kevin Spacey.
Baby seems like a constant intern to the rogues gallery of Doc’s perpetually revolving list of accomplices led ably by John Hamm, Jamie Foxx and The Chilli Peppers’ Flea; but he has baggage, reaching back to his childhood and his embedded first iPod. Wright describes Baby as being just a kid fooling himself but tuning out the fact that he is committing crimes.
He lives with his ironically deaf, invalid foster dad but tunes out the hum in his drum by tapping and dancing through his own backdrop, even under the pressure to commit crimes or better said, because of it.
The tempo moves from Allegro to Presto when Baby meets Debora and flavours of True Romance crash into Vanishing Point.
The story progresses further to a potentially apocalyptic end with Baby’s talent for balletic car chases set to Queen’s high pitched Brighton Rock, but Baby is no Pinky and he eschews the violence with the skill behind the wheel.
Edgar Wright pays tribute to his own unique style developed with the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy but adds new dimensions to provide a multifaceted movie of depth that should stimulate the most demanding critic.
In summary, Baby Driver is a Northern Soul-Italian Job-Bullitt-French Connection-Blues Brothers-True Romance mixed tape for your new girlfriend.
What would be your getaway heist song…..