BABY DRIVER: STYLISH SPEED

I’ve yet to be disappointed by an Edgar Wright movie, and BABY DRIVER is yet another victory for writer/director Edgar Wright.

The plot focuses on “Baby”, a driving prodigy who is indebted to a criminal mastermind for a couple more jobs. Will he continue to elude the police long enough to “retire”? And how will his “retirement” go over with his former associates?

Not exactly breaking new ground with the concept, but the execution more than makes up for that.

If this movie were a cocktail, it would be a couple parts Bank Heist movie (from the perspective of the getaway driver), a couple parts Car Chase, one part romance, and perhaps a dash of that “dancing through life” style in a Gene Kelly / Fred Astaire type of way that movies like La La Land, Billy Elliot and Guardians Of The Galaxy have incorporated so well into the flow of their films.

It would be hard to assemble a better cast than what they’ve put together here. Kevin Spacey as the boss was likely the easiest casting choice they made, with that role seemingly written with him in mind, playing to his strengths. Jon Bernthal brought his signature intensity, though he wasn’t involved in as much of the film as I would’ve liked. Making up for that, Jamie Foxx was incredibly cool as he effortlessly slid into the role of a partially unhinged criminal with a penchant for seemingly random violence.

Jon Hamm continued to move further off-type from his days as Don Draper, and yet, he brought to screen a very interesting character with a nice range of emotion on display. It might have been nice to get another hint or two at whether or not some “supposed” backstory was true or not. One thing is for certain about Edgar Wright movies, though, is that a second viewing will almost certainly result in stumbling over things I missed the first time around, and Hamm’s character is one I will be paying more attention to next go-round.

I wasn’t previously familiar with the work of eponymous star Ansel Elgort, but he executed nicely on a variety of things asked of him with the character of Baby. The chemistry between he and Lily James worked very nicely, their somewhat rapidly-formed relationship still felt somewhat natural given the similarities in their backgrounds, life experiences and dreams.

I understand why the plot included Baby’s foster parent as an aging deaf man, but that part of the film really took a toll on things. It slowed the pacing way down, it mostly dulled down the cool vibe and tone, and the appearance of subtitles just added to a part of the movie which definitely felt out of place with the rest of the film. I can appreciate the dichotomy of how his life is at home compared to when he’s out in the world, but it definitely detracted from the film in the way it was presented.

And that’s the thing, the way the music was incorporated into the majority of the movie was great. Whether the car is speeding through traffic making improbable turns, sitting in wait with its driver riding the rhythm through the windshield wipers and banging on the various surfaces, or our protagonist is walking the streets on a coffee run, the way the music is coordinated with the action is choreographed so well. At one point, a gun is fired somewhat rapidly, and its blasts coincide with the song’s beat. Artistic achievement, indeed! This is another area I will be looking forward to enjoying with subsequent viewings, because I’m sure I noticed some of the song lyrics splashed about the scenes, through fliers or graffiti or storefront signs.

I can absolutely see why people have been gushing about how cool BABY DRIVER is, because Edgar Wright and company did a grand job putting it together. It loses a few points for the pacing and style changes in parts, and because a couple characters deserved a bit more depth and development, and the third act’s conclusion feels a bit rushed. Still, those complaints are minor, and I’m still heavily recommending it!

My rating: 87 out of 100

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