Baby Driver Review

Edgar Wright’s concept heist flick “Baby Driver” shows that in the right hands, a single idea can be fleshed out into a single good movie. Anyone could have thought to fuse music and action to a choreographed extreme, but Wright’s aptitude for gleeful style and good storytelling instincts give “Baby Driver” some serious wheels.

Although the key to the entire film’s entertainment value is the way it brings action and an eclectic decade-spanning track list together into unique harmony, the story of a young man named Baby (Ansel Elgort) caught up in the life of a getaway driver and inching closer to the tipping point of needing to escape proves surprisingly adequate. Wright builds Baby not with so much backstory but with an array of intriguing personality details — including his tinnitus and reliance on music — that distract us from asking too many questions about how a 20-something white kid ended up in his situation.

Baby has become an expert wheelman working for Doc (Kevin Spacey), whose debt he he’s supposedly about to pay off. Doc assembles new teams of unpredictable, wild criminals (Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Eiza Gonzalez, Jamie Foxx and others) for each job, but Baby is his “lucky charm.” Also motivating Baby to close this chapter in his story is the young diner waitress (Lily James) who catches his eyes and ears.

A lot of the elements here would usually result in a run-of-the-mill heist movie, but Wright painstakingly stages and edits key scenes of the film to create a one-of-a-kind experience (I have major regrets about not seeing this one in theaters). He sets that tone early, almost too early — one could argue the film never eclipses its brilliant opening credits sequence set to Bob & Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle.” There are some fun action sequences in which the violent mayhem syncs with the soundtrack, but the movie really luxuriates in creativity during that opening in a way that it can’t once the story gets going.

The story lacks in originality, but Wright keeps the stakes high. We’re invested in Baby and seeing him out of his terrible situation. As seen in his Cornetto Trilogy, he knows how to build a plot that picks up steam as it goes and the final 30 minutes are total mayhem. The ending is its own debate, but Wright succeeds in delivering a conventional, modern action flick in a fresh and timeless way — timeless in that its style and aesthetics are not confined to any one era. Wright just knows how a large percentage of moviegoers like to be mindlessly appeased and continues to waste (in the best way possible) his artistic talents on projects that cater to the pleasure center of our movie-going brains.


4/5 Stars


Baby Driver
Written and Directed by Edgar Wright
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey


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