I love Edgar Wright when he’s sticking British. From his debut TV series ‘Spaced’ (with long-time collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost), to his smash hit films ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ and the resulting sequels, I love his humour, pop culture and direction.
When America gets involved, I don’t. ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’ was a film that was alright to me, but not REALLY my cup of tea. Following that, ‘Baby Driver’. Of course this does need to be American all the way through for it to work, but as it being an Edgar Wright film? Bar a few quirky injections of musical comedy here and there, this doesn’t do it for me again.
It frustrates me how much praise the film is getting for what I consider very average reasons.
The action? Yes, the opening 15mins is pulse-pounding fun and brilliantly shot, edited and choreographed. It’s a thrill ride harkening back to 80s car chases and all the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ porn you want. You saw it all in the trailers and posters - this is what I expected throughout the film. After that? Nothing. Nothing until maybe the final 15mins again, but even that is restrained, a little predictable and standard stuff.
For a film about a driver, there is little driving in it on the whole.
And the editing? Dubbed as a “an action film set to music” I concur that the film feels like one long annoying mix-tape of music I couldn’t stand, bar ‘Brighton Rock’ by Queen. And it’s early on we see and hear that most sequences and sounds are edited to the music track playing. Now, it’s a cute gimmick. But when it is something done in post production and not live in filming, it doesn’t win me over.
It doesn’t take a “genius” to edit car horns, sirens, gun-shots or anything else into music. This wore off in the first 30mins or so, and after that it became annoying. It was trying to be an action crime film, but with some poetic underlying tone of working to music. Not for me.
Beside all that, the cast were hit and miss. It was great seeing Kevin Spacey in a cold and cunning role again and he was a joy to watch in all his foul-mouthed, cool kingpin attire. Jon Hamm too isn’t too bad, and Jamie Foxx is someone you love to hate - which means he’s doing it right and injecting a needed level of conflict into things to keep the pace going.
But Ansel Elgort? He was just annoying to me most of the time with all his dancing and jumping and smirking. I don’t know why, but he worked better as a silent driver with Ray Bans on, not some world-weary, over-confident “man of the world”. Lily James is harmless enough as the love interest but does little except fall into the “female add on” role who doesn’t give much.
It’s an overall talented cast in their own right for the action requirements and the relationships needed, but beside Spacey and Foxx, the others don’t really add much power to things until the end when Hamm turns into “seen it all before” gun toting criminal.
The action, as said, is well executed but there’s little originality bar the opening. The rest is just shoot-outs and car crashes and chases that we’ve seen before in other films. Being set to a quirky and cult soundtrack does NOT make it unique or original, and this will not win me over.
A film devoid of Wright’s usual charm and humour, I feel I was sold something different to what I watched. Boring in places, slow when there was too much talking and a soundtrack that just didn’t seem to stop, it was an annoying experience to say the least and a real shame.