Baby Driver is an action heist film directed and written by Edgar Wright. The film follows Baby, a getaway driver that moves to the music he listens to while performing heists for a kingpin. In between heists he meets Debora the waitress, played by Lily James. They fall in love and long to be free and runaway to the open road. Just as he thinks he has made it out he gets involved in a heist that goes to shit.
To be honest I really wanted to love this film. It has all the right ingredients I’d like to see, but for some reason it just felt like a letdown. The trailer showed everything there is to see. The best acts are the beginning and end with the middle dragging a bit. If you break it down, it was a 3-4 minute chase in the beginning after a heist, then spending almost as much time doing a musical number, then some frail love story, followed by another musical number involving a gun fight, 3-minute foot chase mimicking car chase scenes, and then the finale that ramps up to a mild conclusion. The film is riddled with ex machinas to advance several plots. For instance, it didn’t help when characters like Kevin Spacey would completely change their persona from cutthroat kingpin in the beginning to mentor father figure in the end . The love story had sort of a 1950s vibe, while nice, wasn’t really fleshed out. I wasn’t buying it that in so little time Baby would do anything for her. Many moments felt the need to suspend belief to accept the ridiculousness that was happening. The problem was the other half felt it was trying to be realistic enough that it was all believable.
Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, and Jon Bernthal killed it. Jon Bernthal did so great it left me wondering why he wasn’t in it more. Their roles probably could have been played by lesser known actors as they made Ansel Elgort’s acting look subpar. Although, that might just be due to the Baby’s backstory being under-written. Aside from the same flashback over and over, his backstory is recounted by Kevin Spacey as he explains to Jamie Foxx in about 10 seconds. On top of that, Baby is kind of boring and a bit of douche. The soundtrack was great and played into the film perfectly. Some moments with the music were a bit too cute, but for the most part it all worked. The film had a lot of visuals, too much in fact, like the laundromat scene. Overall the style of the film was dope. I appreciate what Edgar Wright was doing with the film. It almost felt like he had all these great ideas for scenes and then mashed them into this heist film to create some technically pretty set pieces. Baby Driver lacked the writing, polish, and heart that his frequent collaborator, Simon Pegg would normally bring to the table.
Baby Driver is a greatly executed film packed with tons of style. A bit too much style for my taste as it lacks substance. It’s a good well-made film, but a bit overrated in terms of the actual story and action. Other films like the John Wick series has had equal or better car sequences. In a film that has “driver” in the title I expected more high-octane thrills than what Baby Driver offered.
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 1 hr 52 min
Director: Edgar Wright
Screenplay: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza Gonzalez, and Jon Bernthal
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Nira Park
Music: Steven Price
Cinematography: Bill Pope