- Written and Directed by Edgar Wright
- March 11, 2017 (SXSW) / June 28, 2017 (US and UK)
A young getaway driver seeks freedom from a life of crime with his girlfriend.
On its own Baby Driver is nothing too special. I know some may bristle at that but hear me out. What makes this movie great is the marriage of the songs with the action on the screen. If it wasn’t for that then this would be the fairly average thriller that would’ve come and gone with little notice.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) suffers from tinnitus having been in an accident as a child and uses music to drown it out. That is the gimmick that gets one of the best soundtracks in movie history into this film. Reportedly Edgar Wright took years developing this and a lot of time making his selections and it clearly shows. Elgort avoids making Baby too cool for school. He is awkward and not the best socially.
Baby is that type of character that is unusually gifted. He’s been stealing cars and stealing them quite well since he was a child. After having stolen the wrong car he found himself stuck repaying a dangerous criminal known only as Doc (Kevin Spacey). Code names are the standard with Doc as it is a means to protect him and others by making determining their identities should they be arrested difficult.
Kevin Spacey is one of those actors who can play threatening and dangerous without doing too much. Just a change in his look or an alteration of his tone and you get the feeling he could knife a bitch for eating the last double stuffed Oreo in a pack. He brings that energy here. His character is fatherly towards Baby but also willing to be threatening and dangerous towards the young man. Doc is a dangerous guiding hand.
As a one would expect there’s a love interest to give Baby more motivation to get out but also to serve to complicate things at the end of a film. Debora (Lily James) comes off as a more well-adjusted version of Baby. She is much like him in tastes but lacks the ability at driving or a life of crime.
Elgort and James have some chemistry but it is nothing that says I will wait five years for you as Debora ultimately does. It is more of an energy that says she is having her fun and the relationship will end once the excitement is gone.
The accent James puts on is perhaps among the faker I have ever heard. It is made worse by the fact that this is a serious presentation and not a comedy. Perhaps she needed a coach of some sort or perhaps the actress should have just tried for a flat American accent. Banjos do not have the level of twang she used for this film.
We have a surprisingly good cast in supporting roles of varying levels. Jamie Foxx who one would think would take a central role is a supporting player in the heist crew Baby is a part of. His is an important part but not a main character. Lanny Joon, Jon Bernthal, Flea, and even Paul Williams of all people show up in this movie. Paul Williams was a special treat for me. I have always enjoyed him since Smokey & the Bandit. I cannot recall the last thing I saw him in and was surprised to see him walk on screen as The Butcher.
Jon Hamm was a pleasant surprise in this film as ‘Buddy.’ His Buddy, a former Wall Street banker brought into a life of crime because of a drug habit, starts out as friendly but as the story progresses he develops a dangerous undercurrent. By the end he is off his rocker and becomes an evil force of nature causing death and destruction as he chases Baby down for revenge.
The criminal wanting to go straight is tried and true territory. The combination of the music and the direction make this something special. Not everything needs to be a brand-new idea as those are tough to come by. Think of an idea like a store-bought sauce you pick up because guests are coming over. You dress it up a little by adding a few ingredients and pass it off as something original. And it is good and tasty and that is basically what we get here. It also helps that Baby does not get away clean. He pays a price for his actions.
Baby Driver is a good film made special by the pairing of its music and action. And somehow that elevates everything to a different level and into the realm of you should watch!