Movie Review: Baby Driver
Director Edgar Wright’s newest picture, Baby Driver, had its theatrical release this past week. Wright is known for his unique brand of comedy, which became wildly popular with his release of Shaun of the Dead in 2004. Baby Driver has its funny moments as well, but overall, it is a different kind of direction for Wright. Baby Driver has a star-studded cast with Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, and Jon Bernthal all appearing. It is set in Atlanta, Georgia and follows the character of Baby, a young getaway driver.
The film begins with Ansel Elgort’s character, Baby, comically singing along to music in the car while his three cohorts enter a bank. When they return with stolen cash, Baby’s driving skills are immediately showcased while he evades cops at every turn and successfully delivers them back to their base. It is revealed by Doc, their criminal mastermind, after the meeting that Baby drives as a way of paying off his debt. He stole from Doc shortly after becoming an orphan, and it is a debt he’s paying off after one last job. It is also revealed that he listens to music while he drives to drown out his tinnitus. Before this last job, Baby meets Debora, a young waitress who loves music as much as he does. Baby is called to fulfill his last job with Jamie Foxx’s Bats and two others, and despite some unsettling complications, they are successful in their heist. Baby is relieved to be done with the criminal underworld, as is his foster father, Joseph. However, when Doc appears during Baby’s date with Debora, Baby is unwillingly pulled in for another job. As the planning and execution of this job begins, Baby must decide when or if he’ll ever escape the criminal lifestyle.
The first thing that struck me after watching this film was how utterly original it was. It’s not a typical heist movie; it has a lot of heart and backstory, which holds your attention throughout the entire story. Wright also seemed to take a note from Director James Gunn and let the songs serve as part of the narrative. The music is weaved into every scene effortlessly and enhances the story and the emotions flowing through every moment. The music also makes Ansel Elgort’s character about as likable as they come. Music is part of who he is; he listens while driving and walking, references songs to others, and mixes his own tapes. You understand that he drives getaway vehicles for criminals, but as he lip syncs throughout his apartment while taking care of his foster father, it’s hard to begrudge him in any way.
While the film circles the world of bank robberies and heists, I think it’s interesting how the film never elevates the world of crime. It would be easy to make the acquirement of thousands of dollars seem glamorous, but that’s not the impression that is left. Through Baby’s eyes, you see the appalling behavior of his team, and Baby is just as uncomfortable as the audience is with taking an innocent life. They manage to weave the idea that all crime comes with a cost throughout the storyline, and that subtle thread contributes a lot to the larger story.
Overall, Baby Driver is a unique, quirky, and fun ride. The practical car effects make this film a standout, and the performances given by each member of the cast only enhances the story further. The use of music is superb and can be likened to Guardians of the Galaxy, and while it is rated R, it tells the story of a young man you cannot help but like. Wright successfully mixes humor, action, and heart throughout this fantastic film, making it well worth a watch in a theater near you.