Baby Driver (2017)

baby driver poster

Baby (Ansel Elgort, The Divergent Series) is a brash young getaway driver under the thumb of crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey, Seven, The Usual Suspects) to pay off a debt. After completing his final job for Doc, Baby dreams of driving away with a waitress he’s fallen in love with, only to find that Doc isn’t willing to let his “lucky charm” go that easily. Baby plans to do one last heist before making his own getaway, only to find that everything has it’s price.

I’m a big fan of caper flicks such as Reservoir Dogs and Heat — two films that were great inspirations for writer-director Edgar Wright when creating Baby Driver. Wright has made a great film career for himself starting with the cult classic Shaun of the Dead. Wright has unorthodox sense of storytelling that makes his films compellingly watchable. A staple of Wright’s filmography is putting characters in outlandish, and sometimes comical situations, and making the audience care about them. Baby Driver is no exception.

maxresdefaultThe “gimmick” of the film is that Baby suffers from tinnitus after being in a brutal car crash that killed his mother. To offset the ringing in his ears, he constantly listens to music, especially while driving. Baby’s playlist makes the perfect soundtrack to getaway from bank heists with. The music ends up becoming just as important to the film as the plot, and Baby Driver somehow manages to be a musical without being a musical. The characters themselves do not sing, but the timing of things correlates to the beats of the tracks Baby is listening to. Car doors and gun shots punctuate drum beats. Lyrics to songs can be see as graffiti on the walls as Baby passes by. Baby Driver exists very much in a stylized upbeat film world, and this makes the tonal shift towards the end all the more jarring.

bd1As sharp as the direction and writing is, a film is nothing without a good cast, and Wright stacked the deck here. Baby is joined in his heists by the fun loving couple Buddy (Jon Hamm, Mad Men), and Darling (Eliza Gonzalez, TV’s From Dusk Till Dawn). Later, the sociopathic career criminal Bats (Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained) joins the crew. Without giving too much away, the three bring a lot to their roles, and help to pull Baby’s character in different directions. And Kevin Spacey is excellent (as always) in the leader of the crew, Doc. The complex relationship he has with Baby drives the plot, and made me re-evaluate my feelings towards Doc near the end of the film. Yeah, he’s using Baby, but only because of a deep respect for Baby’s driving skill. He knows Baby can get things done. Despite being killers and criminals, these characters all had a certain charisma that made them likable.

baby-driver-lily-james-ansel-elgort-670-380Finally, there is Baby’s light in the darkness, Debora (Lily James, Downtown Abbey). She’s the heart of the film, as the quintessential young waitress with a heart of gold whose looking for something bigger. Her character is mainly on the periphery of the film, as Baby navigates his criminal and personal life, but always manages to shine through with any scene she’s in. Lily and Ansel share a playful and easy going chemistry that makes the couple endearing to the audience. We want to see them make it, and this adds a genuine sense of tension as Baby’s criminal life threatens to undo it.

With all the big films of Summer 2017 being sequels, remakes, or comic book films, it was nice to see something original as Baby Driver.

 

 

 

 

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