by Hope Madden
Start to finish, the soundtrack-driven heist flick Baby Driver has a bright, infectious charm – and you can dance to it.
It needs to be good, though. The third film in as many years about a mixtape, a rag-tag gang and a dead mom, this movie needs to bring something genuinely mesmerizing.
If there is one thing writer/director Edger Wright knows how to do, it’s propel a film’s action. That’s hardly his only talent, but few excel here quite the way he does. Scene to scene, set piece to set piece, he makes sure your eyes and your ears are aware that things are moving at a quick clip.
Never has this been more true than with Baby Driver.
Wright edits in time with his expertly curated mix tape, creating a rhythm that keeps his lead dancing, his film moving, and his audience engaged.
The beats offer more than a gimmick to ensure the flick dances along – the tunes getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) has buzzing through his ear buds give rhythm to his impressive high speed antics.
Baby is the one constant in the teams Doc (Kevin Spacey) assembles to pull off his jobs. A reluctant participant making good on a debt, Baby keeps his distance from the crew – whether it’s the oily Buddy (Jon Hamm, marvelous as ever), his sketchy girlfriend Darling, (Eiza Gonzales), or the straight-up psycho, Bats (Jamie Foxx – glad to see you in something worthwhile again).
Of course, the tension comes in when Baby tries to leave the robbery biz behind, egged on by feelings for the cute waitress at his favorite diner (Lily James).
If you’ve ever seen a movie, you’ll know that getting out is never easy.
Wright’s agile camera keeps tempo with his killer playlist. Whether back-dropping romance at the laundromat with gorgeous color and tongue-in-cheek visual call-backs, or boogying through back alleys, on-ramps and highways, Baby Driver is as tasty a feast for the eyes as it is the ears.
The game cast never drops a beat, playing characters with the right mix of goofiness and malice to be as fun or as terrifying as they need to be. For all its danceability, Wright’s film offers plenty of tension, too.
Like much of the filmmaker’s work, Baby Driver boasts a contagious pop mentality, intelligent wit and sweet heart.