Thursday, December 7, 2017

Movie with Abe: Baby Driver

Baby Driver
Directed by Edgar Wright
Released June 28, 2017

Any bank robbery or heist needs a good getaway driver. That person doesn’t necessarily get out of the car but is charged with staying cool and keeping their foot on the gas after the crime has been committed to make sure that the group is able to get away clean. The one in that role is often more passive and perceived as less guilty of the crime, yet they’re also the most crucial part of the process. Telling a story centered on the getaway driver worked well in “Drive” a few years ago, and this particular tale turns up the action to present an enlivening and stylized portrait of a kid who can really drive.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a master behind the wheel, starting a track on his iPod so that he can calmly drive away and adjust to any type of obstacle in front of him or pursuit behind him. A tragic car accident at an early age left him with tinnitus, and so he listens constantly to music on one of the many iPods to drown out the sound and keep him focused. As he fulfills the debt he owes to criminal kingpin Doc (Kevin Spacey), Baby prepares to get out and make sure that his foster father Joe (CJ Jones) is cared for as he imagines a future on the road with Debora (Lily James), a waitress who inspires him to speak more in one day than he has in a full year.

The opening scene of “Baby Driver” sets the tone for an energizing experience, one fueled by the music that Baby hears in his ears. His driving is remarkable, and he and the car seem to move as one. There are many moments in the film where the action feels directed by the music, and the range of selections does not favor one particular genre, in part because the film’s protagonist has numerous iPods for different occasions. Baby is an unusual personality, capable of so much and utterly uninterested in communicating or making friends with all but the two most important people in his life, and this film presents an intriguing and rhythmic interpretation of his experience.

Elgort is a good fit for this breakthrough role, allowing the showier actors around him to attract attention while he smoothly moves through each scene and demonstrates his mastery of his skill. Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, Eiza Gonzalez, and Jon Hamm are well-cast as over-the-top criminals whose excessive energy pairs well with Elgort’s calm, and James, who also appears in “The Exception” and “Darkest Hour” this year, demonstrates her range with her portrayal of a sweet love interest who manages to transform Baby. This film feels and looks sleek, with a fantastic soundtrack and superb editing tying it all together. A story that could have felt familiar manages to be original and exciting thanks to all the elements working together under Edgar Wright’s cool direction.


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