“Baby Driver” is an action-comedy heist film with a lot of car chases. It stars Ansel Elgort as Baby, a prodigious getaway driver who’s constantly listening to music. He needs to do one last job before he can leave his life of crime and live with his new girlfriend. But Kevin Spacey, who plays a crime boss, isn’t so eager to let him go.
Why should you care:
Director Edgar Wright left the production of the Marvel movie “Ant-Man” in the middle of filming, and “Baby Driver” is his follow-up. It’s a new original work from the guy behind “Shaun of the Dead,” “At World’s End,” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”
Plus, it’s a fun summer movie.
Have you ever walked down the street while listening to music and pretended that you’re living in a music video? Pretty much the whole movie is like that. When he’s not driving cars, Baby makes mixtapes, and the movie uses well-timed music a lot like “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And it’s all set to the same manic energy you might recognize from Wright’s other movies.
A lot of the secondary performances are also great. Kevin Spacey gets to do that Kevin Spacey thing where he angrily yells and it’s really funny. Jamie Foxx is great as a ruthless, amoral criminal, and Jon Hamm gets a lot of screen time as another member of the criminal gang.
Ansel Elgort is not a good actor. His character is a lot like Ryan Gosling’s in “Drive” in two ways: (1) He’s a driver who wants to leave a criminal life and live with a girl, and (2) he doesn’t need to do much more than run, turn a steering wheel, and stare in the distance when people are talking to him. But when he does need to emote, Elgort falls flat. He’s out-acted by CJ Jones, who’s deaf and wheelchair-bound and plays his foster father.
The female characters in the movie — Lily James, who plays Baby’s love interest, and Eiza González, another one of the criminals — have little characteristics of their own and mostly exist to move the plot forward.
What I love about Edgar Wright is that he can pack a bunch of witty lines and visual jokes in each frame. “Scott Pilgrim” is the best example of this. There are a few scenes where he does this in “Baby Driver” — most prominently in a great long tracking shot at the introduction where Baby fetches a few cups of coffee for his criminal friends. But for the most part, Wright’s signature is lost in the action.
“Baby Driver” is a thrilling, fun, and funny car chase movie that’s better than most Hollywood products. It’s held back by Elgort’s lifeless performance and by its laziness in building its female characters.
“Baby Driver” is currently in theaters.
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