By Mike A. Bryan, staff writer
Buckle up for this thrill-a-minute comedic ride driven by a diverse, unique and memorable soundtrack. The story focuses on a young man who goes by the name of “Baby”, a bank heist getaway driver, rarely seen without sunglasses and earbuds plugged into an iPod. The cast is pretty deep in big names – Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, and Flea – but the story is focused on Ansel Elgort (Baby) and Lily James (Debora). You may recall Elgort’s breakout performance in “The Fault in Our Stars,” or his role in the “Divergent” series, while James is most known for her role in TV’s “Downton Abbey.” Their roles in “Baby Driver” are nowhere near as serious, with riotous LOL moments peppered throughout the movie.
While there is a reference to Bonnie and Clyde towards the end of the film, the story is more complex than that – a classic guy meets girl love story wrapped up in a heist/getaway package. The comedic moments balance out the seriousness of the action sequences in a way that keeps the movie rolling non-stop, with barely any breaks. Character development is not the main focus of this movie, with Elgort’s character getting just enough backstory for the audience to understand his basic motivation. The other characters, including Jon Hamm (Buddy), Jamie Foxx (Bats) and Kevin Spacey (Doc), are rather one-dimensional and predictable, but crucial to the storyline. We hardly even hear the real names of the characters, but their nicknames serve as the tiny bit of character development that does occur.
The car chase and driving sequences comprise most of the action of the film. Surprisingly, the cars used in those sequences are normal, everyday vehicles. So many getaway/heist type movies use cars that are super expensive, rare or modded-out, but this getaway driver can utilize any type of vehicle. It is hard to tell these days how much of an action sequence is done with CGI, but the car chase sequences feel very authentic and real. They will have viewers on the edge of their seats, making those action sequences thrilling and exciting.
Since Baby is constantly listening to music on one of his many iPods, what really drives this movie is the soundtrack. Few moments are not supported by on- or off- camera music: the song selection combines classics and newer tracks with a plethora of less-recognizable songs. There are about thirty tracks from an array of artists, from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion to Barry White to Danger Mouse. Like the music in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the soundtrack both influences and is influenced by the action and changes in the storyline. Overall, the film feels like a long, mashed-up music video.
This movie might not make it into everyone’s DVD collection once it has left theaters, but the soundtrack will live on as great driving music, suitable for a long road trip or a bank heist getaway. But if you are looking for a fun movie night out with the boys, or a non-romantic date night, this movie will satisfy viewers of all ages with its non-stop action, comedic bursts, and endearing love story. I give the movie 4 out of 5 stars.
This movie was directed by Edgar Wright and released by Sony Pictures. “Baby Driver” was released Friday.