Edgar Wright was supposed to be the perfect director for Ant-Man, the perfect director for comic book movies. His movies are delightful mixes of action, comedy, in some cases, special effects and music. I didn’t expect Baby Driver to be any different. That’s why the grittier parts of the film left me stunned, the in-sync loud music got me distracted, disoriented even. There are times when the characters on screen, whether good or bad, innocent or ruthless, are in grave danger. And I’m not sure if I’m supposed to care for them, or should I just enjoy the ride. I expected something that’s more like a dance, Baby Driver threw me in a mosh pit. I also expected some sort of humor. Too bad Simon Pegg isn’t part of the cast. And only Jaimie Foxx’s Bats is funny… well, because he’s bat-shit crazy. That’s why his early exit came as a shock and there wasn’t enough time to gather fear for the Mad Man, except to take as it is what she said. She, by the way, is extremely hot and dangerous, whether she’s with her two smoking barrels or not. Oh, I’m not talking about Lily James’ character by the way. By the time Brian May’s guitar solo goes blaring from one car’s sub-woofers and Baby loses his ears, I was just starting to find my footing. This movie threw me off balance, to say the least. And yes, that’s a compliment.
Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver takes its cue from serious stuff: 70’s crime movies, gritty, realistic car chases. On camera effects, no CGI. The only difference is, he does it MTV-style. Which is to say Wright has set himself some pretty tough hurdles. Intense loud music plus intense action sequence doesn’t always work together. The opening sequence featuring “Bellbottoms” by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was easily the movie’s most impressive song + car chase number. Syncing intensely choreographed action scenes with The Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat” and “Tequila” could be exhilarating, numbing and frustrating at the same time. It throws you in and out of the movie. Blur’s “Intermission” segueing to “Hocus Pocus” was my favorite part of the film, when the in-sync sound and scenes don’t detract from each other. Barry White’s “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up” was also quite perfect for the movie’s quietly intense moments. The rest of the songs work out fine, except for Queen’s “Brighton Rock”, which was distracting, instead of highlighting that one key stunt pulled by Baby near the movie’s end.
Baby Driver had me thinking about Ant-Man—y’know, that small movie within Marvel’s gigantic franchise? I thought Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man would have been so much better than the one we ended up with. But after seeing Baby Driver, maybe not. Assuming it is 100% true that the finished movie we got from Peyton Reed is based on the same script Wright was working on, plus, some “things” added by Reed and Paul Rudd, which I believe improved the movie (e.g., Luis’ tip montage, the quantum realm, Hope Van Dyne, etc.), we can also assume then that if Wright’s Ant-Man would be the better movie, it would be only in terms of execution: style, direction, editing, the action sequence and pacing perhaps. In theory, we would have a better looking, more stylish, more dynamic action movie, but without the things that I actually liked in the movie, like Hope’s relationship with her father, or Scott going sub-atomic to save his daughter. Wright is arguably the better director but Peyton Reed’s movie has the better script.