Film Review: Baby DriverGetaway driver falls for diner waitress in a music-driven, Millennial-friendly heist comedy.
Fueled by a retro soundtrack and an anarchic spirit, Baby Driver is like Drive on speed, a short-attention-span thriller that is a joyride for Millennials until it runs out of gas.
The killer premise starts with Baby (Ansel Elgort ofThe Fault in Our Stars), an auto savant who can outdrive anything with the right music. An opening chase through downtown Atlanta is giddy, propulsive fun as Baby saves the day for a crew of bank robbers including Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez).
The coffee run that follows, as Baby dances down the street to "Harlem Shuffle," is a step away from La La Land, but writer-director Edgar Wright and choreographer Ryan Heffington stage it so crisply that it never becomes cloying. Incidental moments—a perfectly framed trumpet in a music shop window, the primary colors tumbling in a wall of laundromat driers, a warning timed right to the ding of an elevator door—show Wright's fanatical attention to detail, his command of his fantasy world.
Back at a loft to split up the loot, Doc (Kevin Spacey) fills in Baby's background while privately stealing his share of the take. It turns out Baby's hearing was damaged in a car accident that killed his mother, a waitress and aspiring singer. Baby has nearly paid off his debt for stealing Doc's car, but as the genre demands, there's always one more job.
An armored car robbery that goes seriously awry introduces the deranged "Bats" (Jamie Foxx, upping the ante from his turn in Horrible Bosses). Despite Baby's misgivings, Bats muscles his way into taking over a third heist, the robbery of a post office.
The elaborate preparations for the robbery force Baby to betray his deaf foster father (CJ Jones) and Debora (Lily James), the diner waitress he's become fixated on. As Bats warned earlier, Baby will have to draw blood to survive.
Baby Driver's plot takes the bones of an old noir movie—young lovers on the run, a getaway driver with mommy issues, crooks turning on each other—and dresses them up in bright colors, bouncy pop songs, kinetic editing.
Wright can cite everything from Gun Crazy to The Transporter in his action scenes while still putting his own stamp on the material. His cars drift, spin and fly over embankments just like in other chase movies. But their tires make a skittering sound straight out of Alien when they round corners.
Wright's dialogue bristles with made-up tough-guy lingo. Doc orders Baby to "sunset the car" when he wants it removed. "I said we were straight; did you think we were done?" he asks as Baby tries to beg off a job.
Everything's a joke in Baby Driver, at least until the ending, when characters reverse themselves and Wright suddenly embraces all the clichés and devices he had been pretending to mock. The sentimental ending isn't a deal-breaker, but Wright has better movies inside him.
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