Sony’s Baby Driver, the SXSW sensation that aims to be the cool ride of the summer for moviegoers with the need for speed and iTunes at any cost, has much to recommend it. Director-writer Edgar Wright delivers here in style that goes on for days and should have fans dribbling. His output of movies like Shaun Of The Dead, At World’s End and Hot Fuzz has always been a mixed bag for me — enormously promising hipster films that lack total discipline by a helmer who sometimes lets things careen out of control to the detriment of the story. That is also true (literally) in the last act of Baby Driver, which until then is an enormously entertaining and accomplished crime drama driven by a constant musical beat and a rhythm and pace that is simply irresistible.
As I say in my video review above, his movie basically had me at hello with a dazzling opening heist sequence, punctuated by the title character’s dynamic getaway car chase as he steers the bad guys out of harm’s way to the incessant beat of the playlist that guides his life and new career. It sets up the proceedings like it is going to be a feature-length music video — and in some ways it isn’t far from that. Baby, played by Ansel Elgort with Steve McQueen cool, dark glasses, and seemingly permanent earbuds, is a young man who works exclusively for crime boss Doc (a blissfully over the top and very funny Kevin Spacey) as a getaway driver for Doc’s various heists. He’s also falling hard for the waitress, Deborah (Lily James), at the diner he hangs out at, and has a relationship with his foster father, a deaf black man named Joe (CJ Jones) with whom he signs. Baby’s parents were killed in a car crash where his own hearing was impaired, but music makes up for it and allows him to establish a distinct pattern that serves his criminal activity quite well in the comfort of his Subaru.
The plot doesn’t much matter here, but suffice to say eventually things get dicey when Baby is called upon to drive for a post office robbery that is more dangerous than what he’s done to date. The participants Doc puts together include a who’s who of badass thugs like Bats (Jamie Foxx), Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Elza Gonzalez). It is a fast and furious bunch without an ounce of human decency. As this type of crime genre flick goes, Wright paces it so explosively you don’t have time to realize there isn’t much credibility to this plan, but you go along for the ride just as Baby does, unfortunately. This den of thieves are their own worst enemies, and you can imagine where it is all headed. Sadly, the uber-violent final act has the most in common with less-than-realistic Hollywood filmmaking that throws all sense of reality out the window, and this is where Wright lets his worst instincts run hog-wild particularly with the Hamm-fisted Buddy, a mad man for the ages.
Nevertheless the soundtrack, cinematography (Bill Pope), film editing (Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss) and Elgort’s inner calm wins the day for me and makes Baby Driver a “go.” I would say go just for the clever collection of tunes with “baby” in their title that permeate this nifty summer joyride (but no “Baby Love” from The Supremes, for some reason). Producers are Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Nira Park. Sony releases the film wide starting tomorrow.
Do you plan to see Baby Driver? Let us know what you think.