Baby Driver

A film aimed at fanboys and genre aficionados positioned amid a seasonal whirlwind of big-budget sequels and remakes seems like a gamble, yet Baby Driver might be cool enough to pull it off.

After all, both the characters and the concept in this stylish heist thriller from British director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) are subversive and clever, with intensity and attitude to spare — even if the setup ultimately is greater than the payoff.

The film follows a socially awkward misfit nicknamed Baby (Ansel Elgort), who remains quiet while hiding behind a perpetual pair of sunglasses and earphones, the latter due to a hearing impairment stemming from apparent childhood trauma. But his skill behind the wheel speaks volumes, especially to Doc (Kevin Spacey), a ruthless crime boss who hires him as his getaway driver.

Baby’s quirks and offbeat musical tastes puzzle the more experienced accomplices who ride alongside him. He comes out of his shell after meeting a diner waitress (Lily James) with vulnerabilities of her own. Yet when he signs up for one last job before going straight, Baby realizes that he might have been set up to fail all along.

The film is not so much directed as choreographed to its awesomely diverse soundtrack. The frenetic barrage of four-wheeled chase sequences — the first of which is the most exhilarating — is accompanied by a steady chorus of shifting gears and squealing tires.

Visually inventive and meticulously edited, it’s as much a showcase for its characters on four wheels as those with two legs, providing a visceral excitement while toying with clichés.

Although Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) doesn’t check the boxes of a traditional action hero, he finds sympathy in a young man with a most unscrupulous job. Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm are among those seeming to relish villainous supporting roles.

Wright’s screenplay glosses over much of the character development for anyone other than Baby, and doesn’t hold up to much logical scrutiny. A subplot involving Baby’s relationship with his disabled foster father (C.J. Jones) never gains much traction.

Still, even if it’s not as compelling when the engine isn’t running, the film is consistently amusing. Just like its title character, Baby Driver very much finds its own rhythm.


Rated R, 112 minutes.