Let’s get this out of the way first, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is easily one of the best car-chase-crime-dramas to release in years. It has all of the key ingredients that make for a near perfect heist film, which include: pavement shredding car chases, memorable and colorful criminals, bloody shootouts, fantastic music, and a lead character that is easy to root for.
From beginning to end it will have you on the edge of your seat with your toes tapping to the beat. This is a credit to how focused Wright was on infusing the action with music, which timed up perfectly to what was taking place on screen from start to finish. Music is also a key component of the Baby character, who relies on it to drown out a buzz in his ears from a childhood accident, but also because music is at the core of his soul thanks to his traumatic upbringing.
Baby Driver is best described as a heist flick, but it’s a bit deeper than that thanks to how the characters are handled, as well as their relationships with one another. Baby is the best getaway driver in Atlanta, so he works with a crime boss named Doc, who is played by Kevin Spacey. He’s not doing it willingly though, he’s under Doc’s control to pay off a debt he owes to the gangster due to some shenanigans he pulled earlier in his life, so he commits his part of the heists to keep himself and those close to him free from harm.
Ansel Elgort did a bang up job at bringing Baby to life thanks to his ability to showcase the emotional range of a character that doesn’t say much, but is a beast when it comes to his driving abilities and getting away from those pursuing him in general. It’s more of a physical role than a traditional speaking lead role, and Ansel handled the intense action scenes with grace and believability. I never once thought that he looked out of place as Baby, so he channeled this unique character perfectly and really gave him a soul that was easy to get behind and cheer for.
Buying into Baby is key to the narrative’s success, because the other characters are just as deep, but they’re not the type of humans you want to see do well. Baby gets paired with a new crew for each job, so throughout the film he comes across various shady individuals who underestimate his abilities and commitment to the heists. This is due to the fact that he doesn’t look like a criminal or act like one, and for a few of them he almost intimidates them thanks to his quiet demeanor and overall mysterious nature.
Jamie Foxx’s Bats character and Jon Bernthal’s Griff character best showcase how these criminals almost fear Baby due to the way he acts and how Doc vouches for his skills, which to these Alphas is threatening, so they try to rattle him every chance they get. These exchanges really make you hate the types of people they’re playing, which in turn makes you root for Baby even more than you’ll already find yourself doing. This is a credit to both of these actors though, because each one of them made me hate their characters within the first minute of meeting them, so Bernthal and Foxx really left a mark on me with their performances, which again adds to the overall awesomeness of this film.
Baby eventually gets caught up in the criminal world he so desperately never wanted to be in and is trying to get out of, which leads to a very tense middle act and climax. There is also a nice little love story woven throughout, which gives Baby Driver some heart mixed in with its testosterone fueled action sequences. There is also a bit of redemption for one of the main bad guys, as well as Baby himself, so like everything else in the movie, the narrative and its characters are just as well done as the flashy stuff you’ll see in its trailers and posters.
If you love yourself some ridiculously good stunt driving and car chase sequences, which also happen to be set to an amazing music soundtrack, you owe it your your brain’s pleasure center to see Baby Driver in theaters. It’s a thrilling ride from start to finish, but more importantly it tells a solid story with fantastic characters on both sides of the law. It’s more than just an action flick with some of the best driving sequences to be featured on the silver screen in some time. Think Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of how important the music is to the overall film, but then think Heat in terms of the action and drama, that’s pretty much Baby Driver in a nutshell, so yes, it’s as radical as it gets.
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Review Statement: The author of this review paid for a standard ticket for the purposes of this review.