Baby Driver 2017

A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley

BABY DRIVER (Rated R) The genesis of the heist action thriller “Baby Driver” may be found in a Quentin Tarantino film like “Reservoir Dogs” or even in 1978’s crime story “The Driver,” in which a young Ryan O’Neal starred as the getaway driver for a robbery crew.
Writer and director Edgar Wright, who gained notice in the United Kingdom for similar duties with “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” may not be so widely known on this side of the pond, but “Baby Driver” could change that.

As the title suggests if you happen to notice the action-oriented design of the poster, “Baby Driver” is escapist fare in which the word “escape” is central to knowing that the wheelman in robberies is the essential cog for daring getaways from the scene of multiple crimes.
For a cast that is well-established in the public eye, the film’s primary character is the innocent-looking getaway driver who moves hardened criminals from point A to point B with daredevil flair and a personal soundtrack running through his head.

That man behind the wheel would be Baby (Ansel Elgort), a youthful offender who once ran afoul of notorious crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey), the kingpin behind the plotting of brash bank heists assisted by Baby’s automobile acumen.

Sitting impassively in the driver’s seat, though nodding to the beat of specific tunes on his iPod, Baby’s outward appearance, staying aloof with his ever-present earbuds firmly in place, suggests a man obsessed but possibly in over his head. For reasons that remain murky, Baby reluctantly works for Doc so as to pay off a debt, which appears to mean at least doing one more big score. He feels the pull of getting out when he falls for sweet, cute diner waitress Debora (Lily James).

A man of few words, other than to work up the courage to tell Debora he wants them to drive off into the sunset with “a car they can’t afford, with a plan they don’t have,” Baby is not unaware that a doomed job threatens his chances of love and happiness.
Complicating Baby’s future plans are not only the menacing crime boss who has no intention of letting him have a life outside crime but the trigger-happy robbers not thrilled with leaving any witnesses behind.

A crime thriller may not have much in the way of thrills unless some of the bad guys are truly psychotic. That’s hardly an issue for Kevin Spacey as he’s demonstrated a keen ability to be a scheming, unhinged mastermind even as a fictional president.
Jon Hamm, now far removed from his role of a slick Madison Avenue executive, is the psychopath Bobby, teamed up with an equally deranged moll named Darling (Eiza Gonzalez). The two of them are like Bonnie and Clyde.

Even nuttier is Jamie Foxx’s Bats, whose name alone should tell you all you need to know about his mental state. He’d rather shoot first and maybe ask questions later if it suits him.
“Baby Driver” is a nonstop thrill ride, and not just because of the spectacular car chases courtesy of the film’s titular character. The thrills materialize from the sly tension among the crooks, the beat of an awesome soundtrack and the overall anarchic spirit of crackling dialogue.


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