Baby Driver

Year: 2017
Studio: Working Title Films
Director: Edgar Wright
Writer: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Jamie Foxx, Eiza González

It sometimes seems that the moviegoing firmament of critics and cineastes are so tired of endless comic books adaptations and sequels they'll latch on to anything that isn't a graphic novel, TV show or toy and consider it the great white hope that will save cinema. That's the only thing that might account for the critical praise heaped on Baby Driver. It's not a bad movie, but you'd think by reading reviews that it's Citizen Kane.

It tells the story of a getaway driver to a gang of criminals, Baby (Ansel Elgort), only in the game because he owes the crime boss who employs him, Doc (Kevin Spacey) and intends to get out once his debt's paid off.

Baby's very cinematic signature motif is that he constantly has iPod earphones in playing music – during getaway drives, briefings to the gang from Doc on their next job and everything in between. In fact music is to this film what dinosaurs are to Jurassic Park. Part of the marketing narrative about it was how writer/director Edgar Wright built the script on the back of music – from styles to suit each scene to individual cues in the soundscape.

In fact music isn't just in the movie, it's a device the story is partly comprised of. During a central gun battle, the clatter and booms of guns going off is timed to the beat of a song, all of it perfectly acceptable within the universe of the movie and a very stylish device for the viewer.

The problem is that those comic book-esque elements are too fluid and the movie doesn't commit to them enough. It would have been a perfectly enjoyable car chase thriller with a cool soundtrack without all that stuff or a story in a hyper-styled world if Wright had gone all in with it all, but Baby Driver can't seem to decide whether it wants to go all the way or try to stay relaistic by just dabbling, and it's jarring the way it teeters between the two.

The simple plot is that Baby meets and starts to fall in love with cute and perky diner waitress Debora (Lily James) in amongst the first few robberies in the movie, and they plan to hightail it once Doc's satisfied. But if Baby knew as much about criminals as we do, he should know you can't trust them. Doc calls him even after he's all clear, telling him if he doesn't drive on one more job his girlfriend will pay the price.

Worse still, the new sting – robbing a post office – has teamed the usual crew up with Bats (Jamie Foxx), a psychotic loose cannon who doesn't trust anyone and threatens to scupper Baby's plans to finally be free of a life of crime.

The story's effective and light, built around a handful of robbery scenes that showcase Wright's assured handle on action as well as the work of some very good stunt drivers, wrapping a Rebel Without a Cause love story around it all.

It's a perfectly decent action movie and it should be seen and celebrated because it's another example of the kind of movies they just don't anymore (although the fact that we still say that about a couple of films a year seems to disprove its own claim), but it's fine, not great.

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