Writer-Director Edgar Wright is an unusual talent. He has the rare ability to take familiar genres and themes and come up with something entirely original. He did it with the zombie movie (Shaun of the Dead,) cop movie (Hot Fuzz,) and buddy/reunion movie (The World’s End.) Wright has done it again with Baby Driver, which is a heist/chase dramedy driven by the music of the ace getaway driver, Baby. That’s right, B-A-B-Y.
Baby is a bad ass behind the wheel but a wounded kid elsewhere. His hearing was damaged in an accident that killed his awful father and beloved mother. It gave him a dreadful case of tinnitus (as opposed to my mild case.) His solution: play music day and night on his bewildering array of iPods. Life only makes sense to him with a soundtrack. I get that. As you may have noticed, I’m kinda, sorta like that myself. I am not, however, a wheel man for armed robbers.
I don’t want to give away too many details of this action packed but still character driven movie. The acting is as good as the music, which runs the gamut of soul, pop, rock with a dash of hip-hop. Baby’s taste in music is as good as his taste in company is bad.
Speaking of the bad guys: Kevin Spacey is the man with the plan: a Keyser Soze for our times. Jamie Foxx is excellent as a psychotic, hiss-provoking villain aptly dubbed Bats. His dislike of Baby causes endless problems on the film’s final disastrous heist. Jon Hamm plays a charming criminal who becomes Baby’s ultimate nemesis. Suffice it to say he was hard to kill at the end of the movie. My lips are zipped otherwise.
I don’t usually like chase scenes and Dr. A hates them but they worked in Baby Driver‘s apocalyptic last chase, which was reminiscent of the finale of Wright’s Hot Fuzz. I nearly jumped out of my seat when Hocus Pocus by Focus (try saying that 10 ten times in a row) accompanied a foot chase in downtown Atlanta. Baby (Ansel Elgort) is almost as fast a runner as a driver. Cue music:
Baby Driver works on so many levels: it’s a character study, a thrill ride, with a dash of romantic comedy. It takes a juggler to pull off such a discordant mix, and Edgar Wright is equal to the task. I’ve never seen a movie quite like it: Baby Driver is an art house popcorn movie. My only cavil is that I missed Wright regulars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Bring them along for the next one, Edgar.
Baby Driver is the movie we all needed this summer. I give it 4 stars, an Adrastos grade of A- and a wildly enthusiastic Ebertian thumbs up. I’ll give Paul Simon the last word:
Yeah, I know: the song is credited to Simon and Garfunkel, but Paul recorded it while Artie was in Italy filming Catch-22. It’s the soundtrack to the end of Paul and Artie’s musical partnership; subsequent reunion tours notwithstanding.