Bank robbers! Fast cars! A sick playlist!
BQB here with a review of the heist/car chase/romance/action/quasi-musical film, “Baby Driver.”
3.5 readers, I have to be honest. When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I thought it would be crap. It looked like a lame attempt to marry a youthful pop song vibe to a heist film, two genres whose audiences don’t mix and mingle well together.
Turns out, I was wrong. I know. You all look up to me but yes, it does happen once in a blue moon. This movie is great and quite frankly, one of the best and most original I have seen all year.
Director Edgar Wright has wowed us with comedies like Simon Pegg comedies like “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” and even brought us musical silliness with “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”
Here, Wright brings us some serious stakes but he does so with style…oh, so much style. And that’s no easy feat, for whenever an attempt at style falls flat, a movie buff like me is standing by to shout, “lame!”
But shout I did not, unless you count shouts of joy.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is maestro behind the wheel…literally. He’s obsessed with good tunes and never goes anywhere without a pair of ear buds in his ears. Sadly, he’s also forced to be the getaway driver for a heist ring led by Doc (Kevin Spacey), with robbers including Griff (Jon Bernthal of “The Walking Dead” fame), Buddy (Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” fame), Darling (Elza Gonzalez of gives me a boner fame), JD (Lanny Joon, I’m not sure what he’s famous for but he has the funniest line of the movie), and Eddie (Flea of “Red Hot Chili Peppers” fame).
When the cash has been grabbed and the police sirens begin to wail, Baby tunes out all that noise and focuses on his tunes, letting the music take control, allowing him to push his driving skills to the limit. This makes for some pretty sweet car chase scenes where the getaway car’s movements are timed to coincide with the beat of whatever Baby is listening to. Epically stylish.
But Baby doesn’t like this life. He knows his foster father Joe (CJ Jones) does not approve and wants him to walk the straight and narrow path. Plus, he falls for waitress Debora (Lily James) and envisions a life with her. The kid just wasn’t meant for a life of crime, and he doesn’t care much for the violent actions of the criminals he’s forced to transport.
Will Baby write the ultimate getaway playlist? Or, will he sing his final swan song? Can’t tell you. You’ll have to see it for yourself.
Speaking of playlists, the film’s score is great, featuring hits from a plethora of decades and genres. No matter when you were born or what your preferred genre is, it is unlikely you’ll get out of the film without hearing at least one tune that strikes your fancy. Music from 1970-present (with an emphasis on the 1970s if I’m not mistaken) and some of the genres I recall include pop, rock and yes, even rap. Baby’s got an iPod for every occasion and a song for every mood and Wright uses those songs to clue the audience in on what mood they should be in.
Kevin Spacey is his usual “I’m smarter than all of you” self. Jon Hamm finally gets a role where it doesn’t look like he just shows up on the set and says “Hi I’m Jon Hamm. Film me because I’m a beautiful man.” Jamie Foxx is the scary wild card and if his intention was to make me pee my pants in fear…well, I didn’t pee but otherwise, yes, I think I would if I had actually met his character in real life.
Ansel Elgort has a future and there are some touching scenes between him and CJ Jones, a deaf actor who play’s Baby’s deaf foster father.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy, a great example of what Hollywood can accomplish when they take a break from all the sequels and prequels and give a director permission to let his freak flag fly. I also love it whenever I go into a movie thinking it will be a pile of crap and end up being a big fan. It’s so much better than when I go into a movie as a big fan only to be disappointed when it turns out to be a pile of crap.