The hardest films to pull off aren’t works that are completely original, but those that take familiar scenarios and archetypes and make us feel wholly invested in an outcome. In Baby Driver, Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) has crafted just such a movie. It’s not family-friendly action/adventure like Wonder Woman; instead, a combustible brew of music, editing and performances creates one of Summer 2017’s most cinematically satisfying experiences. 4.5 out of 5.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) may be a damaged soul, but he knows how to drive. Just ask Doc (Kevin Spacey), who’s enlisted Baby as the driver in a series of robberies. The team of crooks Doc assembles for each job—including Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), Griff (Jon Bernthal) and Bats (Jamie Foxx)—might taunt Baby from time to time, but with Baby behind the wheel, the heists keep going off without a hitch. It doesn’t matter that Baby wants out; Doc knows how to overcome Baby’s reluctance, forcing him to pull off job after job. In need of a way out, Baby finds his motivation in diner waitress Debora, who’s willing to go where Baby leads… if he can just shake off the menacing crew relying on him to keep doing what he does best.
From its opening moments, Baby Driver announces itself as the most energetic film of the season, propelled by a soundtrack that spans musical formats but somehow never hits a wrong note. Wright and editors Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss inject numerous car chases—these days the dullest of action-movie sequences—with can’t-look-away kinetic energy. In front of the camera, Elgort’s title character is humanized through his relationship with a mute foster dad (C.J. Jones) and the radiant Debora (Lily James), who makes it easy to see why Baby would fall so quickly for her. Everyone hits their marks and makes the movie sing in a way action movies rarely do. The film’s biggest surprise may be Hamm, who shows such convincing malevolence as the movie unfolds that he makes us forget his career-defining role as Mad Men’s Don Draper. But there’s more than just good performances and technical skills on display; those who like their films with a moral lesson will discover that Baby Driver doesn’t celebrate criminality, but includes some measure of justice and payment for misdeeds.
That the film’s energy level is unsustainable is no flaw—viewers need a breather from the early, white-knuckle chase scenes—but the conclusion, while thematically satisfying, feels hurried as it pushes through a much greater time span than everything that precedes those closing moments. Believability is also stretched when the chief villain turns into an unstoppable force. But with so much going for the film to that point, these missteps feel slight and easily forgivable.
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SOURCE: Crosswalk – Christian Hanamaker