By Kyle Osborne
It’s no wonder that the fanboys were immediately gaga over “Baby Driver,” it’s a movie that is gleefully about movie making. Its flamboyant tracking shots and long takes without a cut are as attention-seeking as a bright red hot rod. The editing is frenetic and the soundtrack isn’t just underneath the action–the soundtrack is actually one of the film’s biggest attractions. You don’t get lost in the story so much as you get hyped by the storyteller, writer/director Edgar Wright. All of this is good news. Great news.
Ansel Elgort plays the title character–yes his name is Baby (as far as we know) and he’s got the rosy cheeks and peach fuzz to go with his name. And, yes, he’s a driver–specifically a getaway driver with a lead foot and nerves of steel. He chills in the car while the bank robbers do their thing, his earbuds in and his sunglasses on. Then he ferries them to the meet-up, but not until he’s eluded half of Atlanta’s police force with the most amazing driving skills you’ve seen since “The French Connection.” Wright directs the car chases, again, with a sense of glee–this is fun. This is the movies. The best chase, and there are a few, isn’t even in a car–it’s a breathtaking foot chase sequence through the city.
Frankly, the plot is cobbled together from countless other heist films; “just this last one and I’m out” being the most obvious trope, but who cares? The movie’s many borrowed little pieces become, somehow, a movie you haven’t seen before. “Baby Driver” is exhilarating, briskly paced and perfectly cast. Kevin Spacey is the boss who assembles groups of robbers, and what a bunch they are! Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzales are lovers who love to steal, Jamie Foxx is the smartest of the heavies, always aware of the tiniest details. Foxx plays him as uber scary and unpredictable–it’s a phenomenal performance.
The other plot element you’ve seen before is that of the star crossed lovers who just want to run away from this world, hit the road, and keep driving off into the sunset. Lily James plays Elgort’s romantic interest for that bit of the narrative, and she’s amazing.
There are a dozen other character details that are expertly filled in for our smooth-faced hero that will go unmentioned by me. It’s rare that a character this quiet (our boy is way more about listening to his tunes than chatting) gets to have this much depth. So enjoy the rich palette that Wright uses. Music nerds (me) who don’t stay through the credits can see the track listing here
3.5 out of 4 Stars