Doug Reviews: Baby Driver (2017)

Do you know what the worst part was about Writer-Director Edgar Wright leaving Marvel’s Ant-Man prior to filming? The worst part is that it’s taken four years to get another Edgar Wright film into theaters. However, return Wright does with Baby Driver, a film that is part Heat, part Drive, and part musical comedy—wait, what? Shhhhh, just enjoy the ride. It works.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a (relatively) good kid caught in a bad spot. He’s indebted to a criminal mastermind, Doc (Kevin Spacey), and has to pay off his debt by driving the getaway car for all of Doc’s jobs. Baby is very good at his job, very good. Part of the reason he’s so good is that he’s able to focus through the use of his ever-present iPod. Baby suffered an accident when he was a child that resulted in permanent tinnitus. He uses the music to drown out the ringing, but he lives through his music as well. When he’s not out pulling jobs for Doc, Baby cares for his hearing-impaired foster father, Joe (CJ Jones), who only wants Baby to stop his life of crime and do some good. An opportunity to make that good life comes in the form of waitress Debora (Lily James). Baby is head over heels in love, but Doc needs him for another job and he’s not asking nicely. Will Baby find happiness or will be forever trapped by the criminal element?

With Baby Driver, Edgar Wright proves once again why he’s one of the most talented filmmakers working today. The film is a ton of fun and a blast from start to finish. I did find it to be a bit too quirky at times, which took me out of the film a bit, but once I settled in, the movie is a hell of a ride. The action scenes are expertly crafted with one scene echoing back to Michael Mann’s Heat. With a title like Baby Driver, though, the film needs to shine in the car chase department and there are no disappointments there. The chase scenes are fantastic and thrilling. Also, as should be the case in a film where music plays such a crucial role, the soundtrack is both eclectic and exceptional. And any film that references the Beck deep cut “Debra” is all right in my book.

The one thing I haven’t really touched on is the phenomenal cast involved with this film. Baby Driver is filled with a nice mix of characters that hold your attention throughout the film. The most fleshed out character, as should be the case, is Baby, but the majority of the other characters have their backgrounds slowly teased out throughout the film. It’s up to you to decide how much of what is revealed is true or not. Jamie Foxx and Jon Bernthal play the psychopaths, while Jon Hamm and Eiza González play a Bonnie & Clyde-type couple. Flea and Lanny Joon also put in some good work in their brief roles. The film is absolutely oozing with style and these actors know how to use it to create memorable characters. Jon Hamm is especially good as Buddy, possibly delivering his best work since Mad Men. Lily James also does a fine job as Debora, but her character is the one that suffers the most from underdevelopment. While the crooks can coast a bit on cool factor, the love interest should have a bit more meat to her part. She’s lovely, though, and delivers what Wright requires of her. She also has great chemistry with Elgort, who gives a star-making performance here. He’s the real deal after impressing in The Fault in Our Stars, but being a little lackluster in the Divergent films. Baby Driver solidifies him as an actor to watch out for. I also loved Kevin Spacey as Doc. There’s a little more nuance to his role than you might think and Spacey plays it expertly.

Baby Driver is one of the best films of the year. Go see it as soon as you can, because Wright’s films tend to get relegated to cult status and he deserves to be seen by wider audiences. The man is simply a genius and Baby Driver is more proof of that.

 

 

Rating: A-

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