Fasten your seatbelt for an adrenaline-pumping thrill ride during the summer movie season. ‘Baby Driver’ is a heist picture fueled with plenty of style. English director Edgar Wright, best known for comedies like ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’, steps into the crime thriller genre. Thanks to the impeccably choreographed car-chase sequences, ‘Baby Driver’ fires on all cylinders. Wright employs an old-school soundtrack that expertly syncs with the action on the screen. His filmmaking style utilizes a fresh blend of modern pop culture and old fashion storytelling charm. Be careful after viewing ‘Baby Driver,’ you may have the urge to put the pedal to the metal.
His name is Baby, that’s B-A-B-Y (Ansel Elgort), the star of the YA tearjerker ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ plays a getaway driver that likes listening to loud music on his iPod. He has several iPods depending on his mood. The throwback Apple device reminds him of his mom. Remember when they used to cost $499 back in the day? He also enjoys putting down tracks on cassette tapes. The music helps him deal with tinnitus in his ears. It’s a condition he received from a tragic childhood car accident that took his mother’s life. With black Ray-Ban shades and earbuds in place, Baby is a legend behind the wheel. He’s so good that he works for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) who explains, “He’s been driving cars since he could see over the dash.” Spacey is perfectly cast and it is one of his best performances in years.
In the first scene, we see why Baby is the best getaway driver. Three criminals, Griff (Jon Bernthal), Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) jump into Baby’s car with their assault weapons after robbing a bank. The entire sequence is choreographed to the rhythms of what’s playing on his iPod. When he floors it, we hear the tune “Bellbottoms” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. He outruns cop cars in hot pursuit. Buckle up for one of the best car chases in recent memory. Back at their hideout, we learn that once upon a time Baby stole Doc’s Mercedes that was loaded with contraband. He’s been repaying the debt ever since by driving around the Atlanta metro area. It’s a standard plot that he has to do “one last job” before he can walk away from a life of crime. If only it were that easy.
After dirtying our hands in the world of crime, Wright turns on the charm with an old-fashioned meet-cute. In between jobs, Baby meets waitress Debora (Lily James) at a retro diner. After overhearing her sing Carla Thomas’ “B-A-B-Y,” they flirt and gradually fall for each other. When she tells him her dream is heading west on I-20 in a car she cannot afford and a plan she doesn’t have, Baby wants the same thing as a way out of a life of crime. Elgort and James have a palpable chemistry together. Elgort’s performance embodies a natural charisma. James makes the most out of a standard ingénue role. When she flashes her smile, who wouldn’t want to jump into a vintage car and head west with her? The young romance is a nice reprieve from the hard-hitting violence later in the film.
Of course, walking away is not going to be so simple when Bats (Jamie Foxx) is a part of the crew. It’s a meaty role for Foxx who gets to sink his teeth into a real psychotic badass character. It’s a standout performance. The last heist involves robbing a post office. That is pretty much all you need to know. Will Baby and Debora escape and head west? Rev up your engine and drive to your local movie theater to find out. ‘Baby Driver’ is the sleeper hit of the summer.