Baby Driver

The Guardians of the Galaxy series has something very important in common with the new Edgar Wright movie, Baby Driver.

These three movies use music better than most films.  In fact, in these three movies, music is almost a separate character.  I would dare to say that these movies use music batter than many musicals do.

Of course, Edgar Wright and Guardians’ director James Gunn are friends and you can tell they have the same type of style.  That was a word that was in my head from the opening credits of Baby Driver… style.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the world’s greatest getaway driver, but he has a heart of gold.  Forced to pay back a debt to criminal mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey), Baby shows his remarkable car driving skills on bank heists, all the while playing music on his iPod to drown out the constant ringing in his ears.

Baby has tinnitus from a car accident as a youth, but he manages it with his music.  And this film as an even more diverse playlist than GotG.  It contains everything from Beck to Queen to Young MC.

Doc has been using Baby for years, but he never uses the same crew to pull off the heists.  Some of the criminals he used were rough, including Bats (Jamie Foxx), Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza González) and Griff (Jon Bernthal).

Baby was counting the days (and bills) until he was free of the debt to Doc, but things changed when he met the lovely young waitress Debora (Lily James) and falls instantly in love with her.  He begins to plan a way to escape from the life that he was living.  Unfortunately, Doc has a different plan which involves one last big heist.

Baby Driver is a tremendous film.  So many things work well in this film.  As I stated earlier, one of the biggest things about Baby Driver is how stylish the scenes are.  There is an opening scene where Baby is fetching coffee for the criminals and he is strolling through the street, listening to his iPod, and just dancing and lip-syncing the song.  It is such a joyous scene that is reminiscent to the opening scenes in GotG (with Peter Quill dancing to “Come and Get You Love” and Baby Groot dancing to “Mr. Blue Sky”).  This really does a great job of setting the tone for the film as well as informing on the character of Baby.

The action sequences, especially the driving scenes, are off the charts.  Mostly done with practical effects, some of these scenes are breath-taking.  They are also well filmed, as you can, for the most part, tell what was going on.  It was not blurred with too much shaky camera or jump cuts so it looked better than it was.  The realness of these effects really sell the film.

The performances across the board are fantastic.  Ansel Elgort does a remarkable job with the character of Baby with a limited use of dialogue.  Again, the use of music fills out the character unlike any movie you have ever seen.  Kevin Spacey does a great job as Doc, the big bad who has a soft spot for the kid.  Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm nearly steal the show with their different versions of the bad ass criminal.  Foxx, in particular, brings a viciousness that forces Baby to take things to a place he does not want to.  The atrocious behavior of Foxx as Bats shows a side to this job that Baby has avoided.

Lily James and Ansel Elgort have great chemistry together and are very believable as a loving couple.  Here is the biggest issue that I had with Baby Driver, though.  Baby and Debora meet in a cafe where she was working as a waitress and they fall in love almost immediately.  It is too immediately to really believe.   I mean, I can see them as a couple, and I can see them being each other’s great love, but the way they first meet is questionable and then Baby does a couple of things (not really his fault… still) that makes you wonder why Debora continues to put up with him.  Certainly, for her to do some of the actions she takes in the third act, there is not enough of a reasoning.  I would have liked a little more depth to the budding relationship.

Still, that is a minor quip as the film does a great job of keeping me on the edge of my seat through an exciting and unexpected third act.  The film is very satisfying and pays off everything that it gives you.  Perhaps there is not the deepest story ever told, but I would not say that this film was more style over substance.  It is a very sweet story with great use of music that tells a violent story of vicious criminals.

Baby Driver is one of the most original films you are going to see.  It is everything from a musical to a revenge tale and it is filled with brilliant performances.  Edgar Wright has another winner on his hands.

4.75 stars

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