THE EM­PIRE VIEW­ING GUIDE BABY DRIVER

Be­neath the chas­sis of this year’s heist hit, with in­sights from writer-di­rec­tor Edgar Wright

Empire (Australasia) - - Review - WORDS NICK DE SEM­LYEN

00:05:07

SEE­ING RED

__ Flee­ing hot fuzz, Baby (Ansel El­gort) spots an op­por­tu­nity on the 85 free­way, in the form of two other red cars go­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. Wright cites this high-ve­loc­ity pan as the ac­tion shot he’s most proud of. “It was in­cred­i­bly com­pli­cated. Ansel has to look over and turn at just the right mo­ment,” says Wright. “The re­set time for the shot was half an hour, so you’re go­ing, ‘Please don’t fuck this up.’”

00:06:25

STREET WISE

__ The open­ing-cred­its se­quence sees Baby dance down an At­lanta street for two min­utes and 45 sec­onds, from the Healey Build­ing to the (fic­tional) Oc­tane cof­fee shop. “The Healey was Tom Hanks’ ho­tel in Sully,” says Wright of the lo­ca­tion. The song ( Har­lem Shuf­fle by Bob & Earl) was played via con­cealed speak­ers, ex­cept in­side Oc­tane, where char­ac­ters lis­tened on in-ear head­phones.

00:26:28

GROOVY, BABY

__ One of the movie’s most in­spired sight gags sees a trio of shot­gun-tot­ing Austin Pow­erses ad­vanc­ing on a bank. Wright was friendly with Mike My­ers, so was able to call him for per­mis­sion. “I had to act the scene out on the phone for him,” laughs Wright. “He told me about a time he went to the bank be­fore he was fa­mous: the lady be­hind the counter said, ‘Michael My­ers? Oooh, are you gonna stab me?’”

01:02:40

MEATY MEET­ING

__ A scene-steal­ing ap­pear­ance from Paul Wil­liams, of Smokey

And The Ban­dit and Phan­tom Of The Par­adise fame, as an arms dealer with a neat line in porky mono­logues. The idea for the scene came from a New York Times ar­ti­cle about teen drug deal­ers who use meat-based code­words. Co­in­ci­den­tally, there’s an­other 2017 film that uses the phrase “ev­ery­thing but the squeal”: Okja.

00:13:33

JOE’S APART­MENT

__ Af­ter the post-heist hud­dle at Doc’s ware­house, Baby re­turns home to deaf fos­ter fa­ther Joe (CJ Jones). “CJ is a co­me­dian who’s ac­tu­ally deaf, but he is 20 years younger than he ap­pears on screen and he’s not in a wheel­chair ei­ther,” Wright ex­plains. “It’s an amaz­ing thing, work­ing with a deaf ac­tor, be­cause it makes you re­alise the per­cent­age of your wordage that’s ab­so­lute guff.”

00:34:02

BABY BABY

__ This stylised flash­back re­veals the source of our hero’s tin­ni­tus: a car crash dur­ing a child­hood jour­ney with his trou­bled par­ents. It also re­veals that Baby was an ear­phone ad­dict even be­fore he started to drive. Wright con­firms it’s a life­long habit for the char­ac­ter. “It drowns out the sound of what­ever’s up­set­ting him. Whether it’s his par­ents ar­gu­ing or a get­away, he uses it to es­cape on ev­ery level.”

01:21:55

BYE BYE, BATS

__ Foxx’s Bats gets skew­ered by an ir­re­spon­si­bly stored piece of metal, kick­ing off the third act. “Both Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx said the same thing af­ter they’d signed on, which is they didn’t want to die,” says Wright. “It al­most gave me a heart at­tack.” For­tu­nately he was able to talk them both into a spec­tac­u­lar demise, cit­ing the power of shock deaths in the likes of Django Un­chained.

00:25:54

DAMNED IF HE DOES

__ Baby’s killer track for the sec­ond heist is the propul­sive Neat Neat Neat, by English punk-rock band The Damned. So re­liant is he on the beat that at one point he even stops the tune and rewinds it. Wright him­self is just as big a fan of the band. “In the Damned doc­u­men­tary that came out last year, [lead singer] Dave Va­nian is rant­ing, ‘Why does no­body use us in a movie?’ I was like, ‘I’ve got you guys!’”

00:37:31

TREX

__ Baby and Deb­ora get to know each other by talk­ing tunes, and it turns out Baby thinks the band T-rex is pro­nounced “Trex”. “The stu­dio wanted me to cut that joke out,” re­veals Wright. “Some­body said it made him look dumb. But I said, ‘That’s ex­actly why it’s so charm­ing.’” Quentin Tarantino sug­gested the Dave Ed­munds song Deb­o­rah be namechecked in the scene. “But the Deb­o­rah in that song is a bitch!”

01:40:31

CAR-PARK BREAK­DOWN

__ Jon Hamm’s Buddy goes berserk. Some shots were cap­tured af­ter Ge­orge Miller watched an early cut and pro­vided notes. “Surgery with Dr Ge­orge Miller was pretty in­cred­i­ble,” says Wright. “We added the line where Jon says, ‘Here it is, Baby: your killer track.’”

BABY DRIVER IS OUT NOW ON DOWN­LOAD, DVD, BLU-RAY AND 4K UL­TRA HD

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