Get a diaper and buckle up for “Baby Driver.” It’s not often a movie like this comes peeling around the corner.
If “Heat” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” had a baby, it’d be “Driver.” Directed by Edgar Wright, curator of such comedies as “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” the only times he induces laughs in “Baby” is when viewers aren’t holding their breaths.
Wright puts the pedal to the heavy metal—and pop, rap, and Egyptian Reggae—as soon as this heist of a film steals the silver screen from the big-budget summer blockbusters. But “Baby Driver” does more than bust the block; it jumps the curb, flees the fuzz, and never lets off the gas.
Ansel Elgort is Baby, driver for a crew of bank robbers. With his blue-vested beige coat, shaggy hair, and blaster of an iPod, he’s the Millennials’ Han Solo. His passengers, on the other hand, are less hunk and more junk.
Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eliza González), Griff (Jon Bernthal), and Bats (Jamie Foxx) are as dirty as the green ink on their necks and greenbacks in their bags. Their intensity is to instill fear while their intent is clear: They want money. Baby wants out. And ringleader Doc (Kevin Spacey) can remedy both—with just one more job.
Although “Baby Driver” shifts a lot after its start, from fast-paced chases to patient idling for character development and plot exposition, it never stalls. The scenes between elder roommate Joseph (CJ Jones) and Baby are as emotionally cool and calculated as the latter’s drives through downtown Hotlanta.
The steam is left for Debora (Lily James). It’s perhaps no coincidence Baby’s babe-to-be waitresses at a diner: When the two aren’t channeling “Grease’s” Danny and Sandy, they’re singing and dancing their way throughout this unique mix of a movie that’s part musical pallet, part Steve McQueen “Bullet.”
And when “Baby Driver” does switch gears to shoot-em-up sequences, it doesn’t miss. Wright’s action is as gritty as Michael Mann’s California crime saga and as fun as Kathryn Bigelow’s “Point Break,” all stylistically synced to Baby’s soundtrack of choice. With some help from Queen and Martha and the Vandellas, the screenplay hits all the right notes.
“Baby Driver” is not a remake, relaunch, or reboot. But it is worthy of a rewatch. It’s an unusually original film as heart pounding as it is wrenching. And on a production budget of just $40 million, it’s almost a crime that other summer flicks fail to be as fulfilling with resources up to four times “Baby’s” size.
And this baby is one, big bad-boy bundle of joy.
5 out of 5