A film about heists and car chases isn’t normally the kind of movie that immediately catches my interest. However, “Baby Driver” had something special going for it, and that’s the magic words “written and directed by Edgar Wright.”
I’ve been a fan of Wright’s since I saw his quirky zombie romantic comedy “Shaun of the Dead.” I’ve since followed up with Wright’s two other films in the Cornetto trilogy (“Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End”) and his offbeat comedy series “Spaced.” Although his graphic novel-based “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” wasn’t really my cup of tea, “Hot Fuzz” is my all-time favorite comedy. I’ve been curious to see how he develops as a director, and “Baby Driver” appears to be an indication of exciting things to come.
“Baby Driver” is a slick, stylish film with hints of “Reservoir Dogs” and “The Fast and the Furious,” with just a splash of “Guardians of the Galaxy” (I’ll explain that later). “Baby” (Ansel Elgort) is the nickname of crime kingpin Doc’s (Kevin Spacey) getaway driver. Although Doc never uses the same crew to pull off his heists, he always uses Baby, whom he sees as a lucky charm.
Baby doesn’t like living a life of crime, however, and after he pays off his debt, he plans to get out of the business for good. In the meantime, he brings along his trusty iPod and earbuds to every job, both to drown out the tinnitus caused by an accident in his childhood and to distract himself from the darkness of the world around him.
“Baby Driver” is actually more of a serious action film than I was expecting, since Wright is primarily known for his comedies. While I can definitely see hints of Quentin Tarantino in Wright’s work, it’s cool to see him develop his own voice and style. “Baby Driver” has some of Wright’s trademark “quick cuts,” and the cinematography is a lovingly shot work of art. The cast is stacked with some of Hollywood’s coolest people — Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, and Jon Bernthal — and the soundtrack is excellent, reminiscent of the groovy tunes from Guardians of the Galaxy’s awesome mixes. I love a big-budget special effects spectacle, but sometimes it’s nice to see more practical effects, such as in movies like this. The film’s love story between Baby and Debora (Lily James), a waitress at a diner, could have easily distracted from the plot, but I thought it was a nice touch, especially since Elgort and James had such charming chemistry.
The one thing I might have changed about the movie is the ending. The film is a tight, fast-paced ride but the ending seemed to drag on a bit and could have been streamlined. (Warning: Spoilers ahead!) Baby’s final confrontation with Jon Hamm’s thug in the parking garage went on a bit long, and I actually would have preferred a more open ending, without the montage of Baby’s trial and his time in prison. I would have ended it right after Baby surrenders to law enforcement: telling Debora goodbye, getting out of the car, and walking towards the blockade with his hands in the air. But that’s just my personal opinion. I was also a little sad that Bernthal wasn’t in the movie more and thought it was a little odd he just disappeared. However, I saw someone on social media point this out (I’m embarrassed that I initially missed this!) that one of Bernthal’s final lines of dialogue is “if you don’t see me again, that means I’m dead.” So I guess we can assume he won’t be showing up in any “Baby Driver” sequels. (End spoilers)
Like I mentioned before, “Baby Driver” isn’t my normal style of movie, but it was definitely a cool film and I hope Hollywood takes more notice of Edgar Wright. While I love his comedies, it’s neat to see him branching out into some other genres as well.