BABY DRIVER

“Baby Driver” is the latest directorial effort from acclaimed British director Edgar Wright.  A getaway driver named Baby relies on his servitude to crime boss Doc for survival by participating in highly-planned robberies.  Just when it seems like he is able to escape Doc’s hold on him, Baby is coerced into joining one last job.  This leaves him at odds with his girlfriend Debora and trying to deal with the highly aggressive gang members, putting everything Baby knows and loves at great risk.

 

Wright’s screenplay is filled with such snappy and witty dialogue, while also turning many of the cliches of the heist movie genre on their head.  Early on, the scene where the robbers dress in Austin Powers masks because of a confusion between Mike Myers and Michael Myers from “Halloween” is a clear enough indication of how subversive and wildly off-kilter the humor is throughout “Baby Driver.”  Part of the appeal in Wright’s movies, especially his Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy and “Scott Pilgrim,” has been to put a fresh spin on a well-worn genre, whether it be survival horror, science fiction, or even video games, while never losing sight of character development.  Wright also makes effective use of scene transitions, especially with fading in on a record player and during a chase scene.  He and cinematographer Bill Pope implement lighting that displays a hint of ‘70s flair and give the world these characters inhabit a sense of geography and familiarity that is neatly crafted within every plot point.     

 

The rock/R&B soundtrack, featuring the Damned, the Commodores, T. Rex, Carla Thomas, and Beck, among many fairly obscure others, along with the titular character’s namesake as performed by Simon & Garfunkel, is nicely built to heighten the action set pieces, develop the characters, and advance the story.  One of the finest examples of this is in a gunfight set to the tune “Tequila.”  The editing in this sequence, and the rest of the film, is tightly packed and has such a fluid flow that there’s never a sense of plot or characters being glossed over.  Ansel Elgort, in the lead role of Baby, masterfully underplays most of the heavy emotions, keeping in line with his conflicted life-goals between participating in the crimes with the gang, meeting up with his girlfriend, and tending to his elderly, deaf caretaker Joseph.  There is also chemistry between Elgort and Lily James as Debora.  The supporting cast, including Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, and Jamie Foxx all bring a great deal of passionate energy to the table, with Spacey and Foxx easily being the stand-outs.  They add little touches of character in their performances that make even the most ruthless of the gang likable.

 

“Baby Driver” can easily qualify as another winner in Edgar Wright’s short but high quality string of cult successes.

 

**** “Ya-stars”