Baby Driver is the best action film of 2017

Messofanego

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From this year, John Wick 2 was great in the action choreography department although I think it peaked with the Rome catacombs. However, it would still be a film that I'd just fast forward to the action sequences.



Baby Driver is something entirely different. You care about the characters and the stakes. If choreography is what brings you to an action film, then you'll be happy to find out that nearly the whole film is that. The whole reason people like a musical is because of the choreography, same for fans of martial arts/action movies. Baby Driver just decided to combine both by being a full on action musical. The early one-take dance Baby does while on his route through downtown Atlanta is straight out of a musical where even he matches the trumpet section in the song to blowing a wall graffiti trumpet on cue. The choreographer Ryan Heffington (Sia's music videos) and stunt director Darrin Prescott (Drive, Bourne trilogy, Crank, John Wick) were coordinating together to make these sequences work. It's more of a musical than something like La La Land or Chicago because at least those films have just dialogue or dramatic scenes with no rhythm to them. Baby Driver decides to have nearly every behaviour be set to the beat. Walking, picking up items, pressing buttons (which is often used as a match cut), gunshots, hiding behind a tree, nearly everything is set to a rhythm. The songs govern the movie. Imagine your life with a constant soundtrack and that is Baby's character to a T. It's not surprising that Edgar Wright is so good at this given his music video and comedy background where timing is key (see: Edgar Wright - How To Do Visual Comedy), but still doing a feature film out of this feels like inventive and experimental filmmaking at its finest.



From the moment go, you know Ansel Elgort is having a ball with his performance. He is brilliant here, along with the rest of the cast. I never watched a film with him before, so seeing how much range he can bring to this character while holding his own against acting heavyweights such as a couple of Oscar winners (Edgar would whisper "double Oscar shot" whenever Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx were on-screen) shows he's got loads of talent when utilised by the right directors. As soon as the film starts with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's "Bellbottoms" - which is the song that inspired the idea in director Edgar Wright's head - Ansel Elgort's Baby is doing what we all do when we hear a song we love. Air guitar, air keyboard, air drums, the whole lot while waiting for the bank heist to finish in his red Subaru. Then he drives away with the crew and all the beats of the song are matched with the car chase's elements. Like, just listen to that song and imagine a car chase to it, then you might get an idea of the dynamics of that song lend so well to one along with 34 other licensed tracks. From the screening and Q&A I went to yesterday evening, at the BFI Southbank with Edgar Wright, he talked about how the DP Bill Pope would bring up how sometimes the song lengths were too short for the longer action sequence, which was then written into the script where Baby rewinds the song to get to the best bit and then continues. Throughout most of the movie, I was nodding my head to the music, even when intense action is happening and people are dying haha.

There are three or four big action setpieces but what will likely stop you from fast-forwarding to just those bits is that the whole film is exciting from start to finish. The characters are interesting and there are unpredictable twists to each which makes you even more invested in the stakes for Baby and Debora (Lily James). Jamie Foxx as Bats is just a joy to watch as the wild card but more like tough love character. The romance of Baby and Debora is so endearing in that retro Americana manner that you can't help but root for them against this crime world. Even the dialogue scenes have a rhythm thanks to Bill Pope and Edgar Wright's regular editors Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss. You know the film is through the eyes of Baby because when he's not listening to music, you can either hear the composer Steven Price about to match the score to the next song or the ringing from his tinnitus. Baby's relationship with his foster dad at his apartment that is all through sign language brings out most of the heart and charm in the movie.

The plot isn't revolutionary, it's simple (one last job, romantic interest as motivation to get out of the crime life) but clean. Unlike many 2.5 hr blockbuster films (this is even less than 2 hours), it doesn't get bogged down in convoluted plot threads that don't get all fully resolved. While the film is stylish and uproarious, it's not escapist entertainment because it sheds a light on there being consequences. The film starts with a clean and professional getaway but as it goes on, things get messy and mistakes are made. No one gets to wipe their hands clean from their criminal actions.

Special note, I expected Debora to end up being a damsel in distress as is the usual for female romantic interests in crime action films but she holds her own and has agency to the events so there aren't plot contrivances to shorten her presence.

Unlike many action films where the good guys and baddies wear black, this film cares about colour choices for characters. Bats, Darling, Buddy, Baby, Debora, Doc, all got their schemes which as the director explained makes it easier to track them during the intense bits. Edgar mentioned how Mad Max Fury Road did a good job of this, and if you want to hear more about many other details (why it was 22 years in the making, editing, Atlanta, songs, timeless vibe, no green screen) eeked out in the super detailed Q&A, I made a post about it in the Movies-GAF thread.

I didn't know Lily James in a retro diner outfit with boots would give me the vapours. I totally have a mancrush on Ansel Elgort's facial scars and retro American Elvis-like cool persona he's got going on in this film.

This was an absolutely incredible film, and I don't see even the Apes film topping this for the best action film of 2017. It'll be hard for a future action film to top the creativity found here. If you've liked recent or older action films like Mad Max Fury Road, John Wicks, The Raids, Dredd, Kingsman, Bullitt, The Driver, Heat, don't miss out. Comes out on June 28th in most places, and July-August in other countries, so not long to wait.

 

Fury451

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Looking forward to it, but honestly the trailers (save for the international one) have not been particularly flattering to how great it seems to be.
 

vypek

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It's rare for me to want to see a movie enough to go to a theater from the trailer but this has me sort of interested along with impressions
 

Solo

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Shame about the name and marketing (or lack thereof). I dunno, I feel like it's gonna bomb hard, even if the movie is great.
 

Nokterian

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Oh yeah i am looking forward to this Edgar Wright can't do wrong he makes his films not only entertaining it fits with every scene he does.
 

Betty

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Shame about the name and marketing (or lack thereof). I dunno, I feel like it's gonna bomb hard, even if the movie is great.
Well that's another usual hallmark of an Edgar Wright film so yeah.
 

NoRéN

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Looks like it's trying too hard.
That's the impression I got. I finally saw a trailer on tv and instantly knew I did not want to see this.

Remember nds me of bayoneta so I expect people on here to get real hurt if anything negative is said.
 

Accoun

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Now let's hope it's gonna actually play in my local cinemas. They did play the trailer, but I think I remember seeing John Wick 2 trailers before showings and in the end one of the chains skipped it in my city (the one I go to more often). Not showing yet under "upcoming" either, but there's a bit over 2 weeks left until they supposedly start playing it in Poland.
 

brianjones

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i'm sure it will be fun even if the story has been done a dozen times before

wasn't that impressed with the video game violence of john wick
 

Fancy Clown

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Wright always delivers the goods and he's constantly improved his action filmmaking through his films so I'm glad he's tackling a full fledged action movie and on such an ambitious and innovative scale.
 

blugbox

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Jan 17, 2013
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So he's got a toy 86 or BRZ in that top shot. Does he ever drive one during the movie?
 

TDLink

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As a musician, what Baby Driver is doing with its music syncing is incredibly appealing. I look forward to seeing it.
Something you might appreciate even more, the entire movie you are hearing the exact audio that Baby is hearing. So when like, if he takes his left earbud out, you only hear the audio from the right channel. And even in the rare moments where he doesn't have music in, you hear...well something else, I'll avoid spoilers. This movie is awesome with a surround sound set up. The entire audio design is really cool.
 

Toa TAK

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Hey

It's hard to keep expectations in check when there are good threads like these out there.
 

Bronetta

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Ive been getting ads constantly for this movie on Youtube and Spotify. I might just go see it if its as good as the reviews and OP say it is.
 

Messofanego

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So he's got a toy 86 or BRZ in that top shot. Does he ever drive one during the movie?
I'm no gearhead so I have no idea lol

One thing I love about this film is it's a bit more realistic as all the cars are normal, which makes it easier when they need to ditch or distract the cops. Actual bank robbers wouldn't use fancy cars that would be more noticeable.
 

Toa TAK

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Looks like it's trying too hard.
you're trying too hard
OP does a great write up on his views about the movie, with cool insights and background info and its treated to:

Looks like it's trying too hard.
This is NeoGaf alright
This is some astute-ass analysis, dragonfart28.

I'll keep an eye out for the strain that is sure to show when I take my seat.
 

Bits N Pieces

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This ticks every box that I can think of that I want in a film and some I didn't realise I wanted, can't wait to see it!
 

Foggy

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I do think it's a bit early to start sounding the trumpets as this being the best action movie of the year. There's still a good deal of promising films coming down the pipe. Kingsman, Atomic Blonde, Blade of the Immortal, The Villainess, VIP, and Battleship Island.

Regardless, there's a lot to like and look forward to this year.
 
Apr 18, 2012
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People are seeing it already? Argh, I'll probably have to wait until blu-ray since I doubt it will be shown at a theater near me. The trailers definitely make it look like Wright at his peak. He's hit and miss with me (I hate both Scott Pilgrim and At World's End because of the characters) but I'm still super interested. My most anticipated summer film along with Apes.
 

Messofanego

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I haven't seen it (don't even know much about it), but is it safe to say it's not unlike that Madonna/Guy Ritchie BMW short, but is movie length?

If so, I'm totally fucking in.
Way better. That BMW short doesn't even have the music beats synced with the actions. This film is edited to an inch of its life. You can only fully appreciate it when you go see it in the cinema. Make sure you see it with the best sound in a cinema, preferably Dolby Atmos if that's a thing near you.
 

Lionel Richie

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That's a great OP my man, thanks for doing that as I wasn't paying attention to this movie but now I'll watch it when it comes out for sure. Love this new era of action movies.