Edgar Wright has made a lot of really fun movies starting with his “Cornetto Trilogy” in the UK – Sean of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. He moved on to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which was a really fun adaptation of a graphic novel. This movie is a little bit different than his previous work, but stills feels familiar in parts.
Baby Driver begins with a heist – Baby, yes, he goes by Baby, is a getaway driver. He does all his getaway driving to music he carefully selects and plays on various MP3 players as well as recording various conversations and mixing them into original tracks. The opening heist seems to go smoothly, and the three bank robbers, Buddy, Darling, and Griff, hop into the car and Baby drives them away from the scene and the cops.
Baby meets a waitress, Debora, and they bond over music. We learn that Baby is staying with and caring for his elderly and deaf foster father. We also learn that Baby is working off a debt to ‘Doc’, the man who sets up these robberies for which he drives getaway. Doc tells Baby he has one more job before he is done, and sets Baby up with a new crew, featuring Bats, No Nose, and J.D. Once again, Baby does some incredible driving, but Bats turns out to be a bit of a maniac, and surprise surprise, Doc decides that he will not let Baby out of their deal. He goes so far as to threaten both Debora and his foster father.
Baby tries to make plans with Debora to run away – but gets pulled into another job by Doc with Bats, Buddy, and Darling. The job goes sideways, and Baby has to evade both the cops and his crew, get his foster father to safety, and meet up with Debora, just in time to get arrested.
Honestly, that’s about it for the plot – there’s not a ton of story, and there doesn’t need to be. The magic of this movie is the in between moments. It is what director Edgar Wright does with the actors and action. The movie is ultra slick and extremely polished. Every action sequences is set to the song that Baby is listening to, right down to the gunfire matching the drumbeats of the song. It is a very unique way to frame a movie, and makes the action sequences particularly engaging. He manages to cast people who perfectly fit his story.
- Ansel Elgort plays Baby, and his burgeoning DJ career probably helped him work with the music in this role. I think my dislike of Ansel Elgort carried through to Baby. That’s not really his fault – it’s mine. He does a wonderful job portraying a kid who went through a painful childhood capped off by a car accident that killed both parents. He does a great job portraying Baby as disconnected and distant, but at the same time, yearning for a connection and finding that through music.
- Jon Bernthal has one scene in this movie as Griff – the wildcard in the first crew. I found this interesting since it felt like he featured heavily in the marketing.
- Jon Hamm plays Buddy – who at first seems to be a decent guy, but once he loses his love, he goes dangerous scary.
- Eiza Gonzalez plays Darling – Buddy’s girlfriend and sidekick and partner in crime.
- Lily James plays Debora - she’s sweet and gentle and quickly won over by Baby’s genuineness. Baby for his part, is won over by her sweetness, and her similarities to his mother, based on what we learn via flashback.
- Kevin Spacey plays Doc who begins as a villain holding Baby’s future hostage, but has a flip at the end that seems to indicate he feels a bit protective of Baby.
- CJ Jones plays Joseph, and he’s charming and concerned as Baby’s foster father. The most touching moments in the movie were between the two of them. He really is deaf, although not really as old as he plays in the movie. He is an absolutely fascinating man, born one of seven hearing children to two deaf parents, however, did eventually lose his hearing at age 7 to spinal meningitis. He has been an actor for years, has toured the world with a one-man show, and gives motivational speeches to colleges and companies.
- Jamie Foxx plays Bats whose main character motivation seems to be that he’s crazy. He’s crazy and distrusting, which is a bad combination in a bank robber. I can’t tell if it’s a good use of Jamie Foxx, or if they should have let him go a little further.
Overall I liked the movie, I didn’t love it – but I will certainly agree that it is fantastically put together, and a great ride. I was missing a bit of the sense of fun that some of Wright’s earlier films had as this was a bit more serious all the way through – which doesn’t take away from the movie, it’s just not quite the tone I was expecting. I enjoyed the very Edgar Wright-y parts, the quick cuts and zooms. I also found this to be one of the cases where I felt disconnected from the movie because I didn’t really like any of the characters. All the crew members were equally insane and untrustworthy; Doc seemed to be the big bad for the front part and at the end has some sort of out-of-nowhere flip to sacrifice himself for Baby. Because I was still hating him from the beginning where he straight up threatened to kill Baby’s foster father, I felt like that came out of nowhere. All that said, it’s absolutely worth seeing, because it’s Wright’s assembling of familiar pieces in a unique way that makes for an original movie.
7 out of 10 – gained points for the music integration – lost points because I disliked all the characters.