Thursday, March 1, 2018

Movie #449: Baby Driver

Baby Driver is an action/crime movie directed by Edgar Wright and starring Ansel Elgort, Lily James, John Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Eiza Gonzalez, and CJ Jones.

Baby (Elgort) is a getaway driver working for crimelord Doc (Spacey). He's a bit eccentric; he wears earbuds constantly and plays music to drown out tinnitus acquired as a child in the car wreck that killed his parents, but he's fully aware of what's going on around him and he's a superb driver. He's not really a criminal at heart and isn't at violent, he's just working off his debt to Doc. He lives with his deaf foster father Joseph (Jones), and is somewhat content to dance/groove his way through life.

He meets Debora (James) at a diner and begins a relationship, but has to get around Doc blackmailing him to remain in the life, and then get around Bats (Foxx), another crew member, shooting anyone that looks at him funny. At the end of the day, it all goes to shit, Baby has to kill Buddy (Hamm), another of the crew, and winds up going to prison.

Now, this all sounds very prosaic, but remember this is an Edgar Wright film. That means that nothing is accidental, and the back half of the movie mirrors the first half in a lot of ways. Couple that with a really killer soundtrack and fantastic performances all around, and I think it's one of Wrights best films.

Breaking that down a little, Elgort is great as Baby. He puts across a kind of "I'm aloof because I'm actually scared shitless" kind of thing when he's with a crew, but he loosens up around Joseph and dances, you and can see Elgort's ballet training. Likewise, the fact that they got an actual deaf actor to play Joseph (Elgort learned ASL to communicate with him) is awesome. Gonzalez and Hamm have great chemistry as a kind of Bonne & Clyde team, and Bats is great in his role as "crazy guy" but I was very happy that he doesn't turn out to be the real antagonist of the third act.

The romance between Baby and Debora is nice, too, because the movie lets it percolate a little rather than making it a whirlwind, fall-in-bed kind of thing. Baby is kid, and his relationship with Debora is played very much as two young people getting flirty, and that's kinda sweet.

All in all, it's nice to see Wright breaking away from some of his standbys (with no offense to Simon Pegg).

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: The Mummy