Director Edgar Wright is no stranger to taking risks with his work. He mixed a romantic comedy with Zombies in Shaun of the Dead, spoofed the buddy cop action drama in Hot Fuzz and took us on pub crawl during an Alien invasion in The World’s End. For a guy with a film resume like this, his newest directorial effort in a way plays it straight and grounded while still going to the extreme from time to time. Just because the undead and extraterrestrial life aren’t apart of the equation for Wright this time, doesn’t mean the director is not taking major chances with this new film by blending a gritty crime drama with a sweet love story about a dude named Baby with his tunes that play a vital role in the film.
Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort as Baby, a getaway driver for a team of highly skilled bank robbers headed by Doc played by Kevin Spacey. Baby owes the crime boss who now exploits the unassuming young man with a particular talent for evading law enforcement to repay his debt. The audience is treated to numerous high-speed chases through the narrow and traffic jammed streets of Atlanta. Wright’s work as a director here is impressive, considering he avoids the computers to create his intense pursuits in favor of shooting the thrills the old fashion way and it pays off from the second the Baby Driver starts.
All this car crashing and burnt rubber is backed up by an excellent cast which starts with Ansel Elgort in the driver’s seat as Baby. Elgort plays the driving phenom as strange and sweet as he cruises around the city with ear buds in constantly which annoys many of his criminal counterparts. Without spoiling too much, there’s a reason the buds are always in and it provides the soundtrack to his life and the film itself much like Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. The use of music in terms of filmmaking is nothing original these days, but Wright makes the incorporation into the film fresh with songs that match perfectly to the shifting beats of Baby Driver.
The rest of the cast could have easily turned into cartoon character bad guys, but there’s way too much talent in Baby Driver to allow that to happen. Nobody can play the arrogant powerful type like Kevin Spacey and he shows it as crime lord Doc who controls the life of Baby. Jon Hamm ditches his GQ look and goes trashy as Buddy the bank robber who teams with his gun-toting wife Darling (Eiza González) to make a unique pair of crooks. Jamie Foxx also plays a great psychopath in the form of Bats who keeps you on the edge of your seat with every evil look he makes towards you. This gang of goons makes for an interesting collective with Baby playing the total fish out of water with this crew.
The only minor negative in Baby Driver would be an ending that can’t decide if it wants to stay gritty or be sweet with a nice bow on top for nice guy Baby who got caught up on the wrong side of the law. It’s not like the ending doesn’t work or ruin the experience, but the love story and criminal action just doesn’t mix together as well in the 3rd act as it did though out the rest of the film prior to the final few scenes. Still there is still so much to enjoy in this R Rated crime caper that is full of his high-octane action, the heart of an indie film and a soundtrack that holds the film together and sets the mood.
Overall, I give Baby Driver 3.25 out of 4 stars.
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