If you needed one word to sum up Edgar Wright’s new movie, slick would be the one. Because this movie just oozes cool. Even when you don’t think it’s cool, Baby Driver keeps at it until you doubt yourself and decide it’s cool again.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is Atlanta’s best getaway driver, despite being in his early twenties. Doc (Kevin Spacey) uses Baby as his wheelman for daring bank heists, often committed in broad daylight. They are brazen and often violent, but Doc knows that Baby can get the money out. That’s because Baby has a special sauce, earbuds and an ipod that always has the perfect mix going, giving him the extra adrenaline he needs to be the best driver possible.
But Baby doesn’t want to rob banks. Doc forces him to. And when he meets Debora (Lily James), the adorable waitress who can sing and just wants to run away, Baby begins a completely Oedipal relationship with her, not realizing that he might just be dragging her into the dangerous life he leads.
If you haven’t seen the trailer, you might need to before watching the movie, because it sets up the most important aspect of it: music. Music is the cornerstone of this film, it would be nothing without it. Car chases, dramatic pauses, gunfights, all hinge on the song/beat currently playing in Baby’s ears. And it is glorious. This is a love letter to how music makes you feel. It makes you feel like you can do anything. It makes you feel cool, special, like you’re in charge of the world. And it’s how Baby feels most of the time. A smooth sequence, one long shot where Baby walks up and down the street, is so well timed, it’s going to be studied in film classes for years. Because Baby Driver is a master class in how to incorporate every element of film-making to compliment and expand the experience.
Which is why I want to be so damn critical of this movie, because I love it so much and I love everything Edgar Wright has ever done. I want it to be the best at everything, but unfortunately it is not.
First things first, without Jamie Foxx, Baby Driver doesn’t happen. Maybe another actor could have filled in for him, but goddamn was he good. Foxx plays Bats, a criminal who just oozes lethality in every scene. He’s the one absolutely nailing every line given to him. Jon Hamm and even Kevin Spacey are playing catch-up to Foxx. Thankfully, Baby doesn’t actually talk too much, not wanting to cut into his music listening.
Story is where Baby Driver starts to fail. We’ve got memorable characters, a cool setting, killer soundtrack, and in the final fourth of the movie, one of those takes a real left turn. Character choices become ridiculous and forced. The final fight is creative, but lacking based on who actually gets to be the big bad.
It’s just…disappointing. For a movie so well-edited (barring some quick edits in action sequences) it seems like a lot of this should have been reworked in the script. Perhaps they were just too busy enjoying the music.
A film student’s dream come true, Baby Driver is as cool as it sets out to make you think it is. It’s emotional where it needs to be, intense where it needs to be, and funny where it needs to be. But some character choices and motivations may pull the handbrake on the thrills.
3 out of 4 stars.
P.S. Good joke with Jon Bernthal but I’m real bummed he just disappears for the rest of the film.