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Review: Baby Driver

Baby Driver
06.22.2017
9 10

PLOT: A young getaway driver’s (Ansel Elgort) plan to extricate himself from the control of a criminal mastermind (Kevin Spacey) goes awry when sent on one last brutal job.

REVIEW: In a movie like BABY DRIVER, style is everything. Edgar Wright’s first real stab at a crime flick (does HOT FUZZ count?) doesn’t break any new ground narratively - it’s not meant to. The same could have been said of Quentin Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS (which this owes a lot to). The story was familiar, but the style was bold and made it original. Wright’s BABY DRIVER follows the same rule. We’ve seen plenty of films about getaway drivers or cons trying to make one last score before running away, but we’ve never seen it done quite like this before.

A pastiche of a pastiche, it’s not hard to imagine Tarantino enjoying Wright’s take on the genre, which is top-to-bottom infused with the same sensibility he brought to the Cornetto Trilogy and SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. Realism is wholly eschewed, with Ansel Elgort’s driver, Baby, a kind of James Dean-esque delinquent with a heart of gold. He’s a great driver, but he can only drive to music, hence his constant use of an iPod (one for every mood), a quirk thoroughly encouraged by his crime-lord boss, played by Kevin Spacey. It’s not even slightly believable, but it doesn’t have to be. You believe it as being part of this world. Wright is telling you this is the way it is, and if you go along with his vision, you’ll have a rollicking good time.

A true auteur’s movie, BABY DRIVER, from the first second to the last, could never be mistaken as anything but an Edgar Wright movie. Elgort is as much the prototypical, nice guy Wright hero as typified by Simon Pegg in the Cornetto’s, or Scott Pilgrim. Wright never tries to make Elgort look tough. As his name suggests, he’s only a baby in way over his head, but damn if he doesn’t make him look cool, in a way which made me think Wright had also studied a bit of Jean-Luc Godard in addition to QT. The relationship between Baby and his dream-girl waitress love, played by Lily James, seems directly influenced by BREATHLESS, but Wright expertly gets us to invest in them.

If BABY DRIVER hits (and it deserves to) it could make Elgort a star, with him charismatic as hell as the happy-go-lucky Baby. This is the kind of part that could be iconic. He more than holds his own with the powerful supporting cast, led by Spacey as his mentor/boss, who seems to have some genuine affection for the kid, but also probably wouldn’t think twice about slitting his throat. Spacey is in fine form and seems to be having a ball. Jon Hamm plays a crony of Baby’s, who robs, with his wife (Elza Gonzalez) to, as he puts it, “keep the nosebag full.” He’s not evil or crazy, he’s just doing what he needs to do to keep the party going. By contrast, Jamie Foxx is the wild card, playing a character whose name, Bats, tells you all you need to know about his deposition. He’s the guy not above killing bystanders, making Baby get some blood on his hands for the first time, and kicking the film into darker territory.

Wright directs the first half as almost an MGM-styled musical, with everything cut in time to the soundtrack (as in several action beats in THE WORLD’S END). Once people start dying, it all becomes dark and chaotic, right down to the soundtrack. Early on, the chases are fun, and cut to stuff like Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Bellbottoms.” As the chases get more violent, so does the music, with cuts from The Damned, and one of Queen’s most explosive anthems, “Brighton Rock.” It’s crazy stylish and more than that - it’s FAST. I doubt I’ve seen anything lately where nearly two hours rushed by as quickly.

BABY DRIVER is so good, that to think of it not breaking out is depressing, as everyone could get a huge lift here. Elgort is a star, through-and-through, James is super likable and cute, Hamm is edgier and tougher than he’s ever been (it’s a strong return to form after KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES), Foxx is a live wire, Gonzalez is a scene-stealer, and Spacey’s having more fun than any of them (save maybe Wright) as the one pulling all the strings. BABY DRIVER may not be the best movie of the year, but it may well go down as the most fun.

Source: JoBlo.com

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