Title: Baby Driver
Country: USA, UK
Language: English, American Sign Language
Genre: Action, Crime, Music
Director/Writer: Edgar Wright
Music: Steven Price
Cinematography: Bill Pope
R. Marcos Taylor
Officially becoming cinematic scenester Edgar Wright’s highest grossing film to date and breaks into the 9-digit club in its North American territory, BABY DRIVER, his sixth feature, ebulliently welds his music-savvy retro-flair into an über-stylish heist drama, and its riveting opening gambit of an adrenaline-rushing car-chasing sequence trenchantly assuages our dread concerning the wind-up of our baby-faced protagonist, as long as he is behind the wheel, he is invincible, and the situation only becomes parlous when he isn’t.
Baby (Elgort) is a music-loving getaway driver in Atlanta, Georgia, tinnitus-inflicted by a childhood car accident (which rendered him parentless), he is reticent and steeped in the music to fend off his ailment, especially in the heat of his dangerous métier, music is essential in adjusting his judgment and performing those incredible car stunts. He never fails and becomes the mascot of the criminal mastermind Doc (a stern but wise-cracking Spacey), who promises that Baby can go straight when their debt is squared up, and for one blithe moment, that actually happens, where Baby finds a less riskier pizza-delivery job and strikes up a heart-felt romance with waitress Debora (Lily James, personable as ever), until Doc railroads him into taking another job, teaming up with three other criminals, the seemingly congenial but relentlessly lethal Buddy (Hamm, devilish handsome and irrationally elicits one’s trepidation of his denouement), his bombshell wife Darling (González) and a trigger-happy motormouth Bats (a marginally irksome Jamie Foxx), and their plan to rob a post office goes askew even before it starts. The rest of the story slumps into cliché: conscience mounting, body-count soaring, danger menacing, and also a lesson to those evil bosses who relent in the last minute, don’t!
Baby must save himself from the resultant mêlée and also secure the safety of Debora and his deaf foster father (CJ Jones), with a single-minded villain on his tail who, albeit his unswerving resolution of vengeance, more often than not, opts for talking over pulling the trigger when he gains the upper hand in the cat-and-mouse game, to further aggravate the time-honored chagrin of most filmic villains.
Apart from Wright’s bountiful aural potpourri (the film’s soundtrack is the bee’s knees), crafty action pieces, sleek camera antics and outlandish humor (the mix-tape placement is a gas with great pull of Baby’s emotional state). What makes viewers tick is Ansel Elgort’s amiable leading performance, Baby is a wizard in the driving seat, but exceptionally denuded of conceit (a staple mean streak in Wright’s characters, although Spacey, Foxx and Hamm are all competing for that grail), conversely, Elgort is radiant of his youthful nonchalance, visceral tenderness and a personal panache transcending the common teen heartthrob crush, which fits him as a Hollywood’s rising star and a future mainstay. So, the jury is in, might not be as lenient as those in the film, but BABY DRIVER is a bona-fide asset to dissipate the summer blockbuster lethargy and one must congratulate Mr. Wright for finally getting his mojo back!
referential points: Edgar Wright’s THE WORLD’S END (2013, 5.2/10), SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (2010, 4.7/10), HOT FUZZ (2007, 7.3/10), SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004, 7.3/10); Nicolas Winding Refn’s DRIVE (2011, 7.8/10); James Gunn’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014, 7.4/10).