Writer/Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, Flea, Eiza González
At one point, writer and director Edgar Wright was attached to direct Marvel’s Ant-Man back in 2015. If his departure from that film meant more time for Baby Driver than it’s another example of a blessing in disguise. Wright’s latest is one of the coolest and most fun times you’ll have at the theater this year. Ansel Elgort, the teen heartthrob from The Fault in Our Stars, stars in the title role as Baby. He’s a driver working under Kevin Spacey’s Doc who is the ringleader of a covert operation to rob banks. His crew switches up with each job with Baby being the only member of his team who returns each time. For a lack of better words, Baby is driven by music. He is constantly wearing earbuds and beats along to the rhythm of any song. This personality trait doesn’t sit to well with Bats (Foxx) who believes Baby’s ways will get them caught. If you couldn’t tell, Doc’s crew only goes by one word nicknames, like Buddy (Hamm), Darling (Gonzalez), and Griff (Bernthal).
After the second heist of the movie, Baby believes he’s worked his last job for Doc and thinks he can get back to his normal life where he’s the caretaker for a deaf man. There’s a really sweet and endearing relationship between them. He proceeds to take on the job of being a pizza delivery driver. Only Edgar Wright could make this comical. Just like Michael Corleone in Godfather III, Baby finds that just when he thinks he’s out, he’s being pulled right back in. This doesn’t bode well for the newly formed relationship that’s budding between him and diner waitress Debora (James).
In a way Baby Driver has the elements of a musical minus the full-fledged dance numbers. Much like a traditional musical, the film’s soundtrack of songs played on Baby’s iPod is constantly driving the tempo of the film. There are periods where we’re stuck in Baby’s head moving around without dialogue but with a kick-ass song to accompany the chase sequence. There is a specific choreography to Baby’s risky driving skills as he’s dashing over and under any number of bridges, overpasses, and sidewalks. These sequences are slick, energetic, and in your face to the point where they make some of the Fast and the Furious scenes look weak. It should also be known that many of these scenes are executed with practical stunts as opposed to the elaborate CGI process used in other car movies.
As Baby, Ansel Elgort has proven to be more than a one-hit wonder actor. There are stretches were Baby doesn’t have to say a word, but Elgort brings a vitality to him that makes him a joy to watch. He pairs well with Lily James who plays love interest Debora. James has this charming spirit to her that we previously saw in Cinderella and Downton Abbey. Normally adding romantic side plots can be an unnecessary distraction, but Wright makes it work here as a necessary juxtaposition to the life Baby would rather have instead of risking his life as a driver. I’ve grown used to Kevin Spacey in the corrupt leader role thanks to his five seasons on House of Cards, and he plays a similar type of character with Doc. I may have read into it, but I got the impression that perhaps Doc has a sexual desire for the hot and young Baby. It’s never explicitly mentioned, but there’s something about Spacey that leans me in that direction.
Edgar Wright is best known for writing the newly cult favorite Scott Pilgrim vs. The World as well as teaming with Simon Pegg on Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, and The World’s End. He’s tackling both duties here as writer and director. He’s written snappy dialogue for a bunch of hotshot characters looking to test Baby along the way. Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx have memorable moments as two of Doc’s crew members. Hamm is far more appreciative of Baby than Foxx is. Wright never takes the easy way out with his characters. The heists are rarely clean getaways for the crew. They make some blunders along the way, which provides even more laughter throughout. There’s a great scene with Mike Myers Austin Powers masks. I don’t want to spoil the punchline but this will make complete sense when you see it.
It’s been a summer of pointless remakes and uninspired blockbusters. Baby Driver stands above the rest as one of the most original movies you’ll see this year. Period. There have been many other movies about bank heists and the crew behind them, yet Baby Driver still feels fresh. The film’s soundtrack will have you tapping your toe as it feels perfectly curated to carry Baby along on his ride into personal destruction. The soundtrack is insanely eclectic with The Commodores, Beck, Carla Thomas, Simon and Garfunkel, and Focus to name a few. It’s high on action while keeping its consistent wit and sense of humor. There were times where the audience was laughing so hard I missed the next line of dialogue. Edgar Wright doesn’t skip a beat at any point and makes Baby Driver one of the best of the year.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? A high-octane thrill ride with a kick-ass soundtrack
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS