Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Baby Driver

Written and directed by Edgar Wright, Baby Driver is a fast-paced crime thriller overfilling with plenty of humor and music. Centered around a getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) attempting to pay-off a debt to local gangster (Kevin Spacey), the film is a mix of over-the-top action and characters and much more realistic violence and emotion. At times Wright struggles balancing the two sides of the film, especially in the final act which drags on with multiple epilogues, but when it works it's a joy to behold.

With Baby driving for Doc's (Spacey) crew on multiple jobs, we meet an assortment of criminals including the romantic pair of Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza González), Griff (Jon Bernthal), and Bats (Jamie Foxx). We also learn while others are quick to underestimate Baby, there's more going on with the young man who drowns out the noise of the outside world with his constantly playing iPod than meets the eye. We meet his foster father Joseph (CJ Jones), while seeing tragic flashbacks to his mother (Sky Ferreira) and father (Lance Palmer), and are introduced to Baby's new love interest in the beautiful waitress Debora (Lily James).

Stylish and clever, at times Baby Driver can be a bit too cute at time for its own good, such as the song Debora is singing the first time she and Baby meet, but even when it offers a few groan-worthy choices it's hard not to crack a smile at the canvas Wright is bringing to life. That said, there are also motivations and actions by several characters which are questionable at best, especially as the film ramps up into the last big score during its final act. The speed, music, and undeniable style of the proceedings help distract you from paying too much attention to some of these plot issues, but it's hard to ignore them completely.

A mix of Drive, a heist film, and something like Shoot 'Em Up, Baby Driver is undeniably entertaining, if occasionally a bit rough around the edges. Wright's script does add some additional smart pieces to Baby's backstory including his tinnitus, his politeness, the bizarre mashup music he makes, and his use of sign-language and ability to read lips based on being raised by a deaf foster father. The fact that Debora is too good for him (and never realizes it) doesn't hurt our rooting for the getaway driver to earn that love if he can escape the life he's currently trapped in. In a summer that's been more meh than mesmerizing, Baby Driver is worth a look.

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