****½ out of five stars
Writer/director Edgar Wright, known for such films as Scott Pilgrim, Shaun of the Dead,and Hot Fuzz, continues his streak of films with visual ingenuity, movie in-jokes, and lots of heart with Baby Driver.
The film tells the story of a young man nicknamed “Baby” (played by Ansel Elgort and as a child by Hudson Meek). He serves as a getaway driver for a rotating crew of bank robbers hired by a criminal kingpin known as Doc (Kevin Spacey). Baby has permanent tinnitus, and he drowns it out with music. He is a big fan of music, seldom seen without an iPod or tape recorder. He is a shy fellow and a man of few words, but starts to come out of his shell when he meets and falls in love with a waitress named Debora (Lily James). Baby soon plans to elope with Debora and escape from his life of crime, but remains loyal to Doc for a few more jobs. Gradually, Doc’s crew of bank robbers, which include the romantic duo of Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza González), and the impulsive Bats (Jamie Foxx), grow hostile towards Baby.
As with Wright’s previous movies, music is an important part of Baby Driver. The songs on Baby’s playlists highlight many scenes in the movie, and the editing is done perfectly in time with the music. Wright’s signature strong visual style is also on full display here, with car chases as good as any action movie.
Beyond the look and sound of the film is its human element. We are given the story of someone who turned to a life of crime after losing his family, and upon meeting a love interest he attempts to turn a new leaf. In Baby Driver, Wright delivers a surprisingly sweet love story juxtaposed against a world of crime and fast cars. Baby Driver is both a love story and a car chase crime movie as well as a lot of fun.
The cast is also great. Kevin Spacey’s Doc is both a figure of ostensible moral ambiguity and a supportive, almost father-like figure to Baby. The robbers, especially Jamie Foxx’s Bats, are both hilarious and menacing when necessary. Baby and his love interest, Debora, are suitably sweet and fresh-faced.
Those who have enjoyed Wright’s previous films can rest easy knowing that Baby Driver continues his streak of quality and ingenuity. Baby Driver may be my favorite movie of the year so far, so please go out and see it.