The Weekend in Review; July 3rd, 2017

Have you ever just sat in your car and screamed? Perhaps you were stuck in traffic on the way home from work. Or maybe you were in a parking lot, having just spent ten dollars on a loaf of gluten free bread made of ancient grains (whatever the fuck that is). Maybe you were sealed in the garage with the windows open as you ran the engine. Do you ever just scream? Do you just yell and holler and wail? Do you punch the steering wheel, slap the rearview mirror, or elbow the radio? Do you ever cry?

No, neither do I. Of course not. That sounds so silly. I would never do anything like that.




This, as they say, was a big weekend for Lil' Jake. 

No, I'm telling you that's something they say. If you haven't heard it before then you need to get out more, man. 

Baby Driver (2017) is the kind of movie we need more of. It's that mid-budget cinema that we're always talking about being dead and gone. But this movie is very much alive, thrumming and careening around the corners of the mind well after you've left the theater.

The truth is that the mid-budget is where action filmmakers thrive. When a director cannot afford to CGI an army of faceless goons for heroes to face in the final thirty minutes of a film, they have no choice but to attempt something a little more satisfying (even if they fail in the trying). The 21st century has seen its fair share of directors giving into the cynical expectations that come with the modern day blockbuster and placing their films on self-destruct in the final act. Exploding transformers, countries, moons, suns, etc. It's nice to see filmmakers like Edgar Wright spend the money on other, better things. 

Like Christopher McQuarrie's Jack Reacher (2012) and George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Edgar Wright's Baby Driver has vehicular action that feels visceral and real, which is hard to come by in this millennium. These three directors have long understood the key to producing this effect is to situate their action inside of a real-seeming world with real-seeming physics and real-seeming consequences. The cars are driven, they are not animated. And this is why you feel the curvature of every turn in Baby Driver, the squeal of every burnout, and the crunch of every collision. The car chases of Bullitt (1968), The French Connection (1971), and Ronin (1998) all came to mind while watching this film, and that's probably the best compliment I can give a movie featuring cars driving above the speed limit.

Which is to say nothing of Wright's wonderful conceit of a completely diegetic soundtrack, one in which the titular Baby moves through the world to the speed of his own playlist. Baby has to listen to the right music for the right job, and not only that, the music must start at the right time. In fact, the soundtrack is so in tune with the action of this film that even the gunshots line up with the beats of whatever Baby is listening to. It's a gimmick for sure, but one that works. 

It's funny that Edgar Wright had his shot at a movie which would have no doubt required some sort of computer generated clusterfuck in its final moments. He should have been allowed to direct Ant-Man in his own way, but looking back at it now, it's sort of insane that any of us thought that he'd ever be able to sneak out of the house, away from the watchful gaze of his Marvel babysitters. Yes, he should have directed Ant-Man, but it's lucky that he got to do Baby Driver instead.

Until next time, space cowboys.