There has been a ton of hype surrounding this film. It has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (who cares!), critics everywhere are flipping out for it. Does it live up to the hype? Well, it’s a yes and no from me. Baby Driver has style to spare, there’s no denying that. What it lacks though, is substance. I really didn’t care for any of the characters at all. For its entire run time, what had me glued to my seat was its lightning fast editing, great soundtrack, and amazing car chases. For a summer movie, what more could you ask for?
The story isn’t anything new. You’ve got your misguided youth, Baby (Ansel Elgort), who drives like nobody else can. He drives for Doc (Kevin Spacey), who he owes money to. Doc is the brains behind the operation. He sets up bank heists and Baby is the getaway man. Once Baby has finished this final job (there’s never a final job though…they keep pulling me back in!) they’re squared up. Things get complicated when Debora (Lily James) catches Baby’s eye. They just want to be in love and run away together, but it’s not that simple. It doesn’t help that the crew Baby drives for, which includes Griff (Jon Bernthal), Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), Bats (Jamie Foxx), and Eddie (Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers) are a bunch of bat shit crazy lunatics. Getting out isn’t going to be easy for our poor Baby.
When he was young, Baby was in a car crash with his mother and father. Now, he’s got Tinnitus, or “a hum in the drum”, as Doc would say, that he likes to drown out with music. Music is a huge part of this film. It’s everywhere. Baby is constantly listening to it, he’s singing and dancing to it during heists, it syncs up with what’s happening on screen. At first it threw me off, I wasn’t expecting a musical with my heist film, but it feels that way. You get used to it after awhile though, and it fits with the whole package. It helps that the soundtrack is fantastic, with hits from Barry White to Queen. It’s honestly amazing what Edgar Wright and his crew have accomplished with how the film is put together. If the academy doesn’t give Baby Driver a nomination, at the least, for editing/sound editing, that’d be a damn shame.
Edgar Wright has always had a knack for directing amazing action sequences, and Baby Driver is no different. The quick edits give the chase scenes kinetic energy. You feel every screeching tire and crash. They all have their great moments, but one particular bank heist, which begins with Jamie Foxx arguing with one of the crew about the wrong Halloween masks they’re wearing (which is hilarious), culminates in a chase that gets Baby’s getaway truck pinned underneath a transport truck while it’s still driving. It’s like a more intense version of the opening to Christmas Vacation, and was the highlight of the movie for me.
The cast is terrific. Ansel Elgort charms the pants off everyone as Baby. Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm & Eiza Gonzalez are perfect as the muscle/psychos for the heists. Kevin Spacey plays Kevin Spacey. The only minor issue I had was with Lily James as Debora. She plays her role fine, but as a love interest to Baby, it all just seemed forced to me. They’ve known each other for like what, a week? She watches Baby shoot a man, and then she’s willing to die for him? It just made her character seem dumb. I get young love, but this shit’s ridiculous. Maybe that’s just my fatherly instincts kicking in, but who knows.
Edgar Wright has really grown as a director. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, At World’s End & Scott Pilgrim were fun rides. Baby Driver is a more mature one. It has its funny moments, but it feels different from his other films. It’s a huge leap forward, and I’m eager to see what other kinds of craziness he’s cooking up in that brain of his. Baby Driver will have you entertained from start to finish. It’s your classic Edgar Wright, cranked up to 11. – NVJ