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Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver (2017) movie poster Baby Driver

Theatrical Release: June 28, 2017 / Running Time: 113 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Edgar Wright

Cast: Ansel Elgort (Baby), Kevin Spacey (Doc), Lily James (Debora), Jon Bernthal (Griff), Jon Hamm (Buddy), Jamie Foxx (Bats), Elza Gonzalez (Darling), Flea (Eddie), Sky Ferreira (Baby's Mom), Lanny Joon (JD), CJ Jones (Joseph)

 

Edgar Wright has repeatedly proven himself a versatile and gifted filmmaker. But in his first thirteen years of writing and directing features, he has also established a wheelhouse in accessible, homagey genre British comedies co-written with Simon Pegg and starring Pegg and Nick Frost. The group's Cornetto trilogy of Shaun of the Dead,
Hot Fuzz, and The World's End represents some of the sharpest and most stylish comedies to grace the big screen this century. Wright's first foray outside of that tradition was 2010's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, an incredibly creative adaptation that fell short of hype-fueled commercial expectations. Wright returns to American soil with Baby Driver, an original crime action caper that is sure to rank among the most acclaimed releases of 2017's first half.

We open with an impressive dialogue-free scene that establishes Baby (Ansel Elgort, The Fault in Our Stars), a young Atlantan man of few words, as a getaway driver in bank robberies. With earbuds connected to an iPod, Baby calmly waits for more menacing colleagues to do the dirty work and then he navigates the escape with the precision of a veteran stunt driver, evading cop cars, dodging spike strips, switching directions, and confusing helicopters in pursuit. Baby doesn't say a lot, but he doesn't have to either. His driving speaks for itself, though his seemingly tuned-out demeanor sometimes annoys the hardened criminals relying on him.

"Baby Driver" stars Ansel Elgort as Baby, a young, laconic getaway driver who drowns out tinnitus with earbud-supplied tunes.

Baby isn't in bank robberies for the thrill. He owes money to Doc (Kevin Spacey), an influential boss who values the kid's skills and considers him his good luck charm. Baby's debt is nearly cleared and when it is, he takes a job delivering pizzas. It's work his aging deaf foster father (CJ Jones) appreciates, but not something Doc will let him continue, not while there are more heists and weapons deals to pull off. Baby would rather take joyrides with Debora (Cinderella's Lily James), a diner waitress who catches his eye.

Instead of getting to spend time with her, Baby is forced to keep carting such unpredictable wild cards as Buddy (Jon Hamm), his wife Darling (Eiza Gonzαlez), and Bats (Jamie Foxx), who are all highly capable of killing one another or getting everyone killed.

Baby Driver does not build up to one big heist in a formulaic or inevitable way. There's no way to foresee how this will end and even when you think you know, the movie has more surprises in store for you. Final acts are not necessarily Wright's forte. While Hot Fuzz pretty much nails the landing, The World's End falters. Baby Driver's climax runs a bit long and stretches disbelief. Realism is not the principal force of an Edgar Wright film.

Baby's criminal associates Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Bats (Jamie Foxx) sometimes question his apparent disinterest, despite Doc's (Kevin Spacey) belief in him.

What you hope for here and what Wright again delivers is an appealing mix of style and substance. From the opening credits' nimble, uncut stroll placing song lyrics on store windows and the like to the parking garage finale from hell, Wright crafts something unique,
creative, interesting, and just plain fun. It's enjoyable to see Hamm playing against type, Foxx and Spacey to type but amplified, and Elgort graduating from the YA fare that until now has defined his young career.

As usual, Wright makes music a key component. In this case, Baby has his earbuds in all the time to drown out the tinnitus brought on by a traumatic childhood experience. Wright operates from the anti-Guardians of the Galaxy playbook, picking pop songs of the past that are esoteric yet suitable. I believe I recognized just two of the dozens of prominently featured songs, and audiences will probably join me in recognizing another two only for having had their beats sampled by House of Pain and Dr. Dre. The effect may be similar to Guardians, leading viewers to discover or, less likely, rediscover songs of yore and now associate them with these new contemporary, cinematic thrills.

Related Reviews:
Written and Directed by Edgar Wright: The World's End • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World • Hot Fuzz
Ansel Elgort: Divergent • Men, Women & Children | Jamie Foxx: Horrible Bosses • The Soloist • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Kevin Spacey: Elvis & Nixon • The Usual Suspects | Jon Hamm: Million Dollar Arm • Friends with Kids • Keeping Up with the Joneses
Summer Movies: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 • Cars 3 • War for the Planet of the Apes • Wonder Woman
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Reviewed June 28, 2017.



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