THE STORY – Talented getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. After meeting the woman (Lily James) of his dreams, he sees a chance to ditch his shady lifestyle and make a clean break. Coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey), Baby must face the music as a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.
THE CAST – Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx & Jon Bernthal
THE TEAM – Edgar Wright (Director/Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 113 Minutes
By Matt N.
For those who felt that “La La Land” was not their type of musical. If your type of musical involves hardened criminal thugs, wild car chases and a consistent aura of “cool” about you, then “Baby Driver” is the musical film for you. Edgar Wright continues to amaze in his fifth film (And his fifth great film in a row) with a confidence, energy, and love of the filmmaking craft which is felt throughout every frame of this movie. While the screenplay may be a bit conventional at times, the style and execution by Wright remains a pure joy from beginning to end making “Baby Driver” one of the most unique and simultaneously fun times you can spend at the movies all year.
A young and extraordinarily talented getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) has been the go-to driver for Doc (Kevin Spacey) for various bank heists for many years. Working job after job to pay his debt to the mob boss, Baby is always working with different gangs and getting mixed up in more dangerous jobs. His crew is always skeptical of him due to his silent nature. The reason? He’s always listening to music to drown out the tinnitus in his head which came about due to a tragic accident early on in his childhood. After meeting the love of his life, a waitress named Debra (Lily James), and acquiring enough money to start a new life, Baby wants out of the crime business but leaving this dangerous world behind will prove to be more difficult than he thought.
Constantly moving with an effortless pace, “Baby Driver” is a cut above the standard action-heist film due to its creative vision from Edgar Wright. The screenplay may not have much of a message but its endearingly sweet, roaringly funny and an exercise in how far Wright can push the filmmaking genre. The way Wright times his scenes out in terms of how they synchronize with the film’s soundtrack is a masterwork in rhythm and use of sound. You would never think that a film such as “Baby Driver” would have a chance in hell at the Oscars but it truly deserves serious consideration for its sound work and film editing. If there was an award for best soundtrack it is very likely that “Baby Driver” would walk away with that award as hell. Using artists such as Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Carla Thomas, and The Detroit Emeralds (To name a few), Wright’s film stands a good chance to introduce younger audiences to these great artists and their music. If that’s not rewarding enough this film actually got me to care about Ansel Elgort again after the disastrous start to his career with films such as the “Carrie” remake, “The Divergent Series” and “The Fault In Our Stars.”
Elgort is still limited as an actor but Wright expertly navigates around these shortcomings and plays to Elgort’s strengths. He doesn’t talk much, he’s athletic and mysteriously brooding enough that despite his young age, you truly believe he is a bad ass. Television actors Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jaime Foxx, Lily James, Eiza Gonzalez and Jon Bernthal are all well cast in their roles, once again delivering upon their strengths. The real star here though is Wright in how he writes his characters, crafts their dialogue and lets them rip loose on the screen.
The film is a tremendous jolt of energy that delivers everything you are hoping for with an Edgar Wright film and then some. Favoring practical effects with minimal visual effects use, “Baby Driver” feels like something that was finely crafted with love and enthusiasm. That attention to detail and passion finds its way onto the screen and into our hearts through Baby and Debra’s sweet love story. There may be no such thing as clean getaways and all of the other old cliches you can think of are indeed here but it doesn’t matter when you have a filmmaker operating at his peak. Time and time again, “Baby Driver” feels like it will divulge into campy territory or worse, cheesy territory. Luckily for us, it does not. Kick back, open up your eyes and ears and feast upon this film for the senses. This is what a “turn off your brain” action movie should be.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Edgar Wright’s directorial achievement favoring nuts and bolts filmmaking, music and hyper kinetic energy. The cast sure seems to be having a great time!