Edgar Wright’s (“Shaun of the Dead”) much-anticipated film “Baby Driver” which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival has crashed into theaters everywhere this week. This fast-paced, high intensity crime thriller takes you on the ride of your life with every moment accompanied by an amazing and fitting song. While it’s not a musical, it frequently comes close. There’s even a sweet love story amidst the shooting, killing, and robbing. In other words, this movie has it all!
Doc (Kevin Spacey) is the intimidating leader of the pack, employing “experts” to carry out bank robberies with the getaway car driven by a young and very talented boy affectionately known as “Baby” (Ansel Elgort). His unique style isn’t endearing to the rest of the team, but while plugged into his music playlist, he proves himself irreplaceable. Doc’s impeccable care and coordination of his constantly changing teams brings him a situation to reunite Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Elza Gonzalez), and Bats (Jamie Foxx) with Baby to pull off the ultimate heist promising to release Baby from his debts to Doc. With trust always an underlying issue, things go awry as the crossing and double-crossing for money and love keep the story going at warp speed.
“Baby Driver” is breathtakingly captivating from the very first scene as Baby plugs in his music and we are privy to his world as he perceives it. Driving the getaway car, being chased by a myriad number of police cars, his flawless maneuvering of the stick shift sports car makes you slide in your seat as he careens around every corner. The music is as much of a character in this film as the actual people. Wright carefully selects songs from decades past to present to add to the tension or to do the exact opposite—make you laugh. It’s truly odd, but in the best way possible.
The story centers around Baby and his hearing impaired grandfather who Baby cares for. Their relationship is absolutely endearing, particularly as we get to know Baby and his background. On the other end of the spectrum are the degenerates Buddy and Bats whose intellect is compromised as are their morals and scruples. This makes for hilariously disturbing banter and dialogue among this strange group of thieves. This type of humor interwoven into astonishing chase scenes that make your pulse skyrocket and action-packed fighting that is as gruesome as a Tarantino film is what makes this movie so different from any other crime thriller.
“Baby Driver” has plenty of car chase scenes, but they never become repetitive. In fact, you not only anticipate the next one, you look forward to it. And you can’t wait to hear what song will be played next! The pacing of the interaction is just as remarkable particularly when Spacey’s “Doc” is in the scene. He’s menacing and unpredictable, using sarcasm to cut quickly and deeply while making you laugh at another’s expense. The film is filled with juxtaposing concepts and stories and it is Baby’s innocent infatuation with Debora (Lily James), the waitress, that creates yet another interesting component to this mind-blowing film.
The cast of “Baby Driver” is stellar. Elgort’s portrayal of “Baby” is going to make him one of the most recognizable rising stars in Hollywood. This kid can act. Hamm, Spacey, and Foxx have a chemistry together that is explosive and James’ understated performance is exactly what this film needed for balance. Wright writing and direction of these talented actors along with amazing cinematography to bring the viewer into the action and tension gives the film heart. We actually care about the criminals and root for the bad guys, although there are levels of “bad.”
“Baby Driver” is an impressive and highly stylized love story/crime thriller, combining music, violence, action, and unique characters that will have your heart racing as fast as the Subaru Impreza WRX STI.
*Warning—it’s very violent