Baby Driver is a sweet, action-packed ride

Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort as a getaway driver whose heart is not in the robbery game. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort as a getaway driver whose heart is not in the robbery game. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Edgar Wright is best known as the master of comedic tributes to genre films that never stoop to parody due to his genuine affection for the source material. He is not the only director to self-consciously employ techniques and tropes from older films, but he is the best at balancing his modernist sensibilities with a real desire to see the world from the point of view of the character—from Dawn of the Dead to Point Break. His love is not ironic, his references are not winking, his jokes are not pandering, and his name has become synonymous with a very specific brand of film appreciation that is capable of hyper-analysis of pop culture from a place of childlike, wide-eyed wonder.

Baby Driver
R, 113 minutes
Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX, Violet Crown Cinema

His new film, Baby Driver, is arguably his first film that is neither tribute, pastiche nor adaptation, though it does wear its influences on its sleeve. Characters are named after songs Wright intends to use, lyrics are written on walls as our eponymous Baby walks by, and both the humor and action have the brisk confidence of Wright’s previous output; not as surreal as Spaced, but not as broadcasted as Hot Fuzz, but somewhere in between, just plausible enough to be fun, and outrageous enough to be exciting.

Baby Driver tells the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort), a young man with talent beyond his years—and beyond his maturity. Baby has been an escape-car driver for robberies organized by Doc (Kevin Spacey), not for the thrill or the money, but to repay a debt. He is not a criminal at heart, as we see in the opening scene: As he awaits his crew and cargo from an armed robbery, he’s not waiting in silence or sweating in anticipation, but lip-syncing and drumming along to his iPod. One daring getaway after another brings Baby closer to freedom, and to a life on the road with Debora (Lily James).

There is a lot to enjoy in Baby Driver. The supporting cast is excellent—Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Jon Bernthal, Lanny Joon and Flea make up some of the crew Baby is tasked with bringing to safety, and all sink their teeth into the roles with delight. The soundtrack—always an important player in Wright’s films—is well-studied and full of playful energy, even if it can be a tad on-the-nose, like Beck’s “Debra” or the song that inspired the title (you knew it sounded familiar, didn’t you?).

The star of the show, however, is the action, with Wright drawing on the best car-centric films of the ’60s and ’70s. It’s a genre that doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves, but Wright is clearly a devotee; see Walter Hill’s The Driver, Peter Yates’ Bullitt, even William Friedkin’s The French Connection, and put a typical Wright protagonist in the lead instead of a tough guy. Yet while the film lives in a heightened reality and the characters can be exaggerated, the life of crime is not glamorized; people are shot, people die, and you are meant to feel the weight of it all.

So how does Wright hold up in the world of wholly original filmmaking? Pretty well, with charm and excitement and humor to spare. About the worst thing that can be said about Baby Driver is that it is the least likely of his films to be rewatched, with Shaun, Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World in his oeuvre. It’s nothing revolutionary, and you may find yourself wishing for less cutesy stuff and the funny-yet-tedious fight with the final villain in favor of more driving, but you will most certainly not be bored.


Playing this week

Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX
The Shops at Stonefield, 244-3213
 

47 Meters Down, All Eyez On Me, Beatriz at Dinner, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, Cars 3, Despicable Me 3, The Hero, The House, The Mummy, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Transformers: The Last Knight, Wonder Woman

Violet Crown Cinema
200 W. Main St., Downtown Mall, 529-3000

Annie, The Beguiled, Beatriz at Dinner, Cars 3, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Despicable Me 3, Rough Night, Transformers: The Last Knight, Wonder Woman

Posted In:     Arts

Tags:     , ,

Previous Post

Disco Risqué can’t fake the funk or the punk

Next Post

ARTS Pick: Matt Curreri



Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to editor@c-ville.com.

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of