BABY DRIVER puts pedal to metal and floors it for the majority of its 113 minutes, in a crowd-pleasing 2017 actioner fueled by high-speed car chases (refreshingly minus CGI cheating!), a dynamically groovy pop soundtrack, slick and funny banter between attention-grabbing actors and the requisite fusillade of gunshots (“See the USA in a Chevrolet” these days, you’ll do it through a curtain of spitting lead). Plus, hey, Boy-meets-Girl.
Written & directed by Edgar Wright, the music, stunts, repartee and sound effects blend into a seamless self-supporting action cruise through a pulp crime never-never land where obligation, ruthlessness, skill and sacrifice entwine a disparate group of heist specialists (Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Jon Bernthal the most prominent) working under the schemes of mastermind ‘Doc’ (Kevin Spacey). His favorite getaway driver is ‘Baby’ (Ansel Elgort, 22), determinedly working off a debt to Doc. Baby’s laid-back demeanor irks the flamboyantly vicious strong-arm types, yet he holds their awe with his preternatural driving skills, keyed to his precisely timed selection of tunes. The chinks in his armor: basic decency, loyalty to his foster father and a crush on saucy waitress ‘Deborah’ (Lily James).
“I do drugs to support a robbery habit.”
The cast is as sharp as the material is smooth: Elgort confidently possessing cool and gifted with catlike grace; a ferocious Foxx the best he’s been in years; Hamm exuding calm menace; Spacey a given for the condescending commander. González is a lit lethal firecracker, James pretty much a peach. It bears little resemblance to real life, but with reality proving so cruddy, audiences flocked to the flair: the $34,000,000 production stole critical high-fives and made off with a haul of $227,000,000. As of this writing, the career of one cast member is in clear jeopardy (paging John Law) but the rest are in gear, with the younger gang bound for big payoffs.
Only shoots itself in the foot (make that ear) with a bit of excess nastiness near the end; otherwise, a swell ride. With Flea, Lanny June, C J Jones, Paul Williams (where has he been?) and Hal Whiteside. Cinematography by Bill Pope, music arranged by Steven Price, editing from Paul Machliss. Filmed in Atlanta. Oscar-nominated for Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.