Genre: Action, Crime, Music
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Berthal, Eliza Gonzalez
Runtime: 1h 53mins
Is it a heist movie? A romance? Auto porno? Edgar Wright’s buzz-worthy ‘Baby Driver’ is a pimped out mixture of all three, guaranteeing a sweet summer ride. Yet, what makes this lighter take on Nicolas Refn’s ‘Drive’ feel a little bit different from ‘The Fast and the Furious’ and ‘The Transporters’ is its unmistakable millennial tone.
Our central hero is Baby. He’s played by 23-year-old heartthrob Ansel Elgort (The Fault in our Stars), and he drives. Baby drives fast. He drives so fast, he’s the number one choice for all of Doc’s (Kevin Spacey) illegal jobs that demand a fast getaway, namely, robbing banks. We get a sample of his skills in the opening scene as Baby eludes police in a high speed pursuit through the streets of Atlanta.
There are no gigantic explosions. No vehicles falling from airplanes. Just screeching tires, donuts, drifting and weaving through oncoming traffic. In other words: An old-fashioned car chase.
Turns out these poor examples of road safety still make the best action sequences in the world of moving pictures. They’re accessible to everyone. We may not know what it’s like to be a soldier or an astronaut, but we all know what it’s like to be behind a wheel. Or at least be in a car, so when Baby drives, we’re riding shotgun all the way.
It’s an easy place to develop sympathy, but Baby isn’t the most accessible character when we meet him. He hides behind a pair of sunglasses, listens to his iPod all day long and seems a little aloof to the point of being cocky.
Writer-director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz) doesn’t apologize for any of it. He embraces every familiar whiff and strokes every reference because it actually serves the film’s underlying dramatic theme. We can’t un-see what we have seen. The only thing we can really do is remix the scraps and samples of past moments in a bid to exercise some control, and phrase them to our own beat. Baby does this throughout the movie with taped recordings of everyday events. And Wright does this with the whole film.
Baby Driver winks at the obsession with money and power, without actually winking at all. The film’s palpably sincere heart saves it from being smarmy, and Wright’s direction keeps the emotional arcs predictable, but pure.
Jamie Foxx is the only one who is a pain-in-the-ass in the entire movie.Jon Hamm fits well. Money-minded Spacey is the embodiment of the believing Boomers, and Elgort becomes heir to ‘The Graduate’s Benjamin’, and Ryan Gosling in ‘Drive’ as he drag races destiny in a bid to shape his own future — behind the wheels of a Subaru.
He’s the earbud-plugged maniac. A man-child of action, comfortable in his own sexuality and unafraid to sing his own song out loud. Literally. Call him Baby Driver.