July 12, 2017

Baby Driver: Mob Wheelman Puts Pedal to the Metal in Blockbuster

All you really need to know about Baby Driver is that so far it’s simply the best film of the year. The picture was written and directed by Edgar Wright, who is best known for three British comedies that starred Simon Pegg: Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World’s End (2013).

Mr. Wright shot this movie in Atlanta and it is a labor of love that took several decades to complete. The movie has its beginnings in “Bellbottoms,” a discordant punk anthem that he visualized as “a song in search of a car chase” from the moment he first heard it in 1995.

That cult classic isn’t the only obscure tune in Baby Driver’s eclectic soundtrack that features rarities ranging from T. Rex’s “Debora,” to Blur’s “Intermission,” to The Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat.” However, the blockbuster also has its share of recognizable hits too, such as the Commodores’ “Easy,” Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ “Nowhere to Run,” and “Hocus Pocus” by Focus.

The film has an A-list cast that includes Oscar-winners Jamie Foxx (Ray) and Kevin Spacey (American Beauty and The Usual Suspects), Emmy-winner Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and two-time, Screen Actors Guild Award-winner Lily James (Downton Abbey). However, the film is carried by the up-and-coming actor Ansel Elgort.

He plays Baby, a deaf getaway driver who is extraordinarily adept at eluding the authorities. He is reluctantly controlled by the mob because of a debt that he owes to Doc (Kevin Spacey) the manipulative crime boss. Baby wants to be free of the mob so he can start a new life with Deborah (James), the waitress he fell in love with in an empty diner.

Of course Doc insists that he first serve as wheelman for the “last big heist” that is being staged by Bats (Foxx), Buddy (Hamm), and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez). When the robbery goes wrong, Baby’s survival instincts kick-in in a primal urge for self-preservation.

Excellent (****). Rated R for violence and pervasive profanity. Running time: 113 minutes. Production Studio: Working Title Films. Distributor: TriStar Pictures.