If you’re looking for some excitement at the movies this summer, look no further than “Baby Driver.”
Written and directed by fanboys everywhere’s favorite Edgar Wright, “Baby Driver” is a stylish explosion of a genre-blending action thriller, romantic heist movie and crime film all in one.
“Driver” centers around a kid named Baby (Ansel Elgort), a Wayfarers-wearing youth who keeps a mostly wordless demeanor (think Steve McQueen or Ryan Gosling’s strong and silent type high school selves). After getting mixed up in a world of crime, Baby uses his talents behind the wheel as a getaway driver to pay off a debt to crime boss, Doc (Kevin Spacey).
Winding and wheeling his way around Atlanta’s city streets, Baby evades the cops with devilish gear shifts and burnouts that will leave audiences totally floored (the movie uses no CGI for the car stunt work). Every hairpin turn of every getaway drive is accompanied by some carefully curated song queued up on his iPod. “Baby Driver” fuses getaway driving and rock radio so expertly, that if the movie was considered the engine, the music would be the fuel that keeps it roaring. After a traumatic car-collision leaves a childhood Baby parent-less and with an always-present ringing in his in ears, he drowns out his Tinnitus by listening to music, and at all hours of the day. Compulsively cranking classic rock cuts during his high-speed sprints or just serving up some old Soul tunes, music is as much Baby’s secret weapon as it is his distraction.
Starting with the film’s opening getaway chase, grooving along to the soundtrack is like rocking out at a concert. This neo-musical act continues through to the very end, where, after meeting the sweet, kind-eyed diner waitress Debra (Lily James), Baby decides to go straight and get out of the crime game – that is, if he can escape the ruthless Doc (Spacey) and the job’s skizo thugs, Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Bats (Jamie Foxx).
…notice Ryan Heffington, the choreographer of Sia’s “Chandelier” music video, is credited as the film’s choreographer in the opening title credits.
Wright continues to prove he is truly one of today’s most “visionary” directors. Fans of Wright’s previous films (“Sean of the Dead,” “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”) will know that he has perfected a visual identity and humor all his own, but with “Baby Driver,” Wright brings those elements together to an even bigger stage.
“Baby Driver” is slick and effortlessly cool, where lane changes and car spins, camera zooms and cuts are all oiled up in perfect unison (notice Ryan Heffington, the choreographer of Sia’s “Chandelier” music video, is credited as the film’s choreographer in the opening title credits). The film’s opening scene, one long uninterrupted take set to “Harlem Shuffle,” is an amazingly choreographed number (look for the song lyrics graffiti hidden on the sides of walls).
In the driver’s seat is the baby-faced Ansel Elgort (“The Fault in Our Stars”) in a role that requires the young actor to play both the strong and silent type while keeping his youthful aloofness intact. Wright’s remaining ensemble is just as well cast – it’s always a treat to see Kevin Spacey play bad, as well as Jamie Foxx as a menacing character. Lily James delights as a Southern Belle, but the stand out performances must go to Jon Hamm, who sheds his Don Draper image for a villain with depth and CJ Jones– a real-life deaf stand-up entertainer who plays Baby’s caretaker, who lends another great performance.
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush this summer, do yourself a favor. See “Baby Driver” in theaters. It’s not only one of the best films of the summer, but of the year to date.
‘Baby Driver’ is rated R for language throughout and violence. 113 minutes. Opening tomorrow in theaters everywhere.