Take A Drive With Baby Driver

Baby Driver

 

Baby Driver!  When I saw this trailer months ago I had no idea what to think about it just from the title alone.  Yet seeing a star studded cast that included Jon Hamm, Lily James, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx, I had hopes for a good movie.  So, with it rushing into a midweek premiere I managed to finally check it out this weekend.  What’s the verdict on the action/crime movie to hit the screen.  Robbie K here always appreciating your views on his blog.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  I don’t say this too much, but this cast was aces across the board. Let’s start with the lead Ansel Elgort who plays Baby.  At first I was only impressed with his ability to be the awkward silent type, but as the movie progresses Elgort is able to bring a little more to the screen to round out Baby.  His range broadens as more characters are introduced into the film and he has to balance between the two worlds that he lives in.  As kind of his looming shadow, the master villain Kevin Spacey continues to play that cool, calculating, manipulative role that he made famous in House of Cards.  Not too much to be annoying, but not too little to be cheated Spacey really brings depth to a cliché role and keeps things heated up.  As for Foxx, well his acting continues to improve me in spectrum he can cover.  Taking more of the jaded thug approach, Foxx adds the comedic heat to the film with the darker theme taking hold.  I could spend the whole review on the chemistry of everyone, but Baby Driver’s cast is stellar.

 

The Action:  For a crime thriller toting about the stunts and guns, the movie certainly delivers.  Baby Driver shifts the gear into R for reality and manages to deliver sequences that are exciting chases through obstacle laden courses with all the bells and whistles.  Unlike the Fast and The Furious, this movie keeps things on a believable level, requiring actual stunt driving instead of high tech gadgets.  Even the gunplay is exciting, finally adopting the crime motif we had in the mafia movie days instead of the explosion loaded productions famous of modern cinema.  The action is well directed, and used as a supporting tool to keep the film exciting and fast paced without being the only aspect of the movie.

 

The Story:  Most crime stories bore me these days because they get too caught up in either sex or malicious violence.  While Baby Driver is certainly darker in its own accord, it has a story that doesn’t dance in one area.  A combination of love, action, and crime drama, the storyboard writers get props from me for crafting a decently balanced story.  Baby’s character is complicated (though the trailers might mislead you), and they managed to gradually peel this character apart and help him transform into someone completely new.  To do this all while bringing forth a story that doesn’t put me to sleep but keep me on edge is certainly worthy of two thumbs up.

 

The Music:  The theme of Baby Driver is music (he is always wearing headphones if you haven’t seen the trailers), and that means you need a strong soundtrack.  Mission successful on this part too.  While I’m not quite familiar with some of these classics (yes boo me), they music directors selected a fantastic spread to entertain us with.  Across many genres and decades, your ears will be swallowed by a deluge of classics, each fitting with the tone of the movie and providing great sound support to the impressive visuals.  And if you don’t know these tunes, well the internet is still a wonderful thing when used appropriately.

DISLIKES:

 

No unifying crime plot:  In many crime movies, there is a big score, a key target, or some unifying goal.  Baby Driver though doesn’t have that big, impending doom I often like to see, choosing instead to focus more on Baby himself.  While certainly a small dislike, I felt the unifying theme or grand plan could have provided a little more oomph to the story and a way to integrate Spacey’s character even more.

 

Romance Aspect:  I’m not saying this is bad, and again I’m grasping at most straws, but Baby Driver’s romance component needs a little work.  Lily James and Elgort have some decent chemistry and work well together in the scenes where they are paired.  However, I feel that this component was a little glazed over up until the climax where the crap starts to hit the fan.  Expanding this role again would have tied some things together and integrated the cast a little better to complete the story.

 

Part of the Ending:  This dislike is again complicated, but I’ll do my best to explain.  Baby Driver’s ending is certainly unique and took many directions I liked in the form of being non-cliché, artistic, and exciting on many levels.  Yet about fifteen minutes of the ending was dragged out entirely too long and started hitting that ridiculous level Hollywood often hits.  The vicious parts were a little overdramatic and the predictable twists just led to more run time that wasn’t really needed. Still it wrapped up nicely and had a self-gratifying finish, it just didn’t need to be that complicated.  

 

The Verdict:

 

I agree with many that Baby Driver is one awesome film.  Despite the weird title (which yes is a song title), it works on many levels primarily in regards to a suspenseful action tale with strong story elements.  Baby Driver is an example of what movies can be if done right and I for one recommend hitting this movie in theaters. Of note, use caution when taking younger audience members due to the violence please.

 

My scores:

 

Action/Crime/Music:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Another “Party Movie Of The Year” Wannabe

We Are Your Friends

            Another weekend, another review and this time we are rocking into the theater for yet another youthful drama. Zac Efron leads the cast in the latest film about partying and friendship, in hopes of entertaining the masses in what looks to be some half-baked movie. Yet Hollywood can sometimes surprise you with a masterpiece that will hold a place in your own hall of fame. What is the verdict with this movie? Well sit back, relax and read my thoughts on Max Joseph’s We Are Your Friends.

The plot of the movie, according to the trailers, centers on Cole an aspiring D.J. in the San Fernando Valley who longs to make his mark. His idealistic, and mostly deadbeat, friends “work” to find a means of making money to move up to bigger and better things, perhaps resulting to less legal manners to do so. Fortune smiles on Cole when another DJ named James (Wes Bentley) offer him opportunities that could set him up for success. But these opportunities, as well as a cute woman named Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski) may be more than he bargained for. What chaos can ensue?

Does this plot sound familiar? Well it should, because We Are Your Friends picks up the same carbon copy teenage drama plot that millions fall in love. Predictable doesn’t describe how easy it was to pick apart the plot and know what was going to happen next. Much of the tale, as well as the dialog, focused on very shallow qualities that our modern age could relate to, primarily living for the moment via the use of drugs, booze, and careless sex. The “love” aspect in the film is rather simplistic, greatly diluted by the partying scenes and almost nonexistent until the end of the movie. Amidst the sea of very selfish and irresponsible motives, the team managed to add a few good morals to the film, such as working hard and selflessness towards others. It was just a shame that so much of this was rushed, so that they could maximize more of the party atmosphere. This brings me to my next point, the cinematography.

We are your friends is all about making you feel you are partying, much of the 90 minutes dedicated to portraying modern social life… at least in the LA region. Loud raves filled with many young extras jamming to electronic music are the primary settings of this film. I felt they did a nice job dropping you into various party styles that help give you some social culture education, immersing you in all the aspects they have. Unfortunately this meant glorifying drugs, alcohol, and recreational sex as the true means of having fun. I only hope the consequences they showed at the end get through to the main audience, but with how much fun they made partying on drugs, can’t say that will be the case. I’ll admit I did enjoy the artistic direction they took for one drug scene, where the visual styles pop out, but otherwise it was not an impressive display. The best parts of the entire cinema for me though were showing the DJ process, getting glimpses on how the music I enjoy so much is synthesized and brought to life.

In addition to glorifying the party lifestyle, this film also likes to focus on the body…a lot. Many of the extras and our two leading actors are very hot, sexy, or whatever descriptive term you want to use. Efron has plenty of moments in skin tight, muscle-emphasizing shirts that are shed to show off his body. If you’re like some of my friends, you’ll give this movie a ten for this feature alone. Guys don’t worry; the directors have given you plenty of female anatomy to appreciate as well. Emily alone is very gorgeous to look at, but they have casted enough extras in skimpy clothing, and sometimes none, to appeal to your natural urges. Either way, this movie is sure to get some people “excited” and plays well to appeal to the shallow side of things.

The best and final thing for me of this movie though is the soundtrack. Since this is a movie about an aspiring DJ, you can guess the movie is filled with tracks of electronic dance music. Fans of this genre will be tapping their toes as the music plays through the theater speakers, bass booming in full strength until the rest of the sounds became integrated into the mix. I admit I was boogying to many of tracks they created for this film. While some of the tracks are a little disorganized, I loved the integration of the music into the scenes and how the song matched the tone of the scene. However, if you find this kind of music simply earsplitting noise, then you need to avoid this movie for this point alone.

Let’s face it; this movie is certainly not the best on the block. With a very unoriginal plot, focus on the superficial qualities of life, and lack of award winning dialog there is very little that makes this worthy of the theater. In fact, this movie would have made for a good after school special if I’m being honest. However, the movie gets points for a gorgeous cast and awesome soundtrack. Thus, I recommend you wait out for this one to come to Netflix.

My scores are:

 

Drama/Music/Romance: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.0