Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver is one of the most entertaining movies that you’ll see in a theater in 2017. Most potential audience members who go to see a movie are doing so to be entertained, and Baby Driver delivers in that area in spades. So if that’s you, and what you want is a fun, funny, and incredibly well-made action movie, then you should see Baby Driver immediately. It’s a fantastic time, it’s another success from writer-director Edgar Wright, and you’ll have a blast.

The film tells, for the most part, a pretty simple and relatively familiar story. Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young getaway driver in deep to a mob boss (Kevin Spacey). He pays off his debt early on in the film but is then lured back into the game for One Last Job, a trope with which you should be familiar. This is all while he’s finally found love with a waitress (Lily James) and wants to make a clean break from his life of crime. After the One Last Job, he’ll have enough money to do just that. Plot-wise, that’s the majority of the film right there. It’s not going for any big surprises.

But, like many of our great movies, the reasons to watch come in the details, not in the overarching story being told. For instance, our lead character, Baby, is interesting not because he’s a young getaway driver who’s trying to get out of the game, but because of an accident he had as a kid that gave him tinnitus, killed his parents, and perhaps led to him being slightly “off” as a young adult. He constantly listens to music and is both intimidating and childish at the same time; he’s an odd character, played wonderfully by Elgort, and he consistently warrants our attention.

And then we get to the action scenes, some of which are getaway scenes and a couple of which are shootouts. Edgar Wright is a shockingly good technical director, and he makes these so exciting. The getaway scenes, especially, feel realistic even though they probably aren’t. There’s a style to them, a coolness that’s hard to define but you’ll feel almost immediately – Baby Driver opens with probably its best one. But you’re not emotionally invested at that point, so it doesn’t mean as much; you appreciate its raw, technical glory more because of that, and the latter scenes don’t feel inferior as you’ll care about the characters by then. All of the action, also, is accompanied by – and sometimes choreographed to – a fantastic musical score.

Baby Driver is such a fun film.

The non-Baby criminals are also a lot of fun to watch. The main ones we get to know are: Doc, the Kevin Spacey character, who winds up as a father figure to Baby; Buddy and Darling (Jon Hamm and Eiza González), a Bonnie and Clyde-inspired married couple; and Bats (Jamie Foxx), who seems ready to go off at any moment. All of them are fun on their own, and watching them play off Baby – in various ways – is half the fun of Baby Driver.

You might note so far that I’ve mentioned how Baby Driver is a lot of fun but not that it’s particularly deep, rich, or intelligent. It doesn’t have a lot of strong themes or give its audiences a lot to think about; its intelligence is on the technical side and in subverting a couple of plot threads you think it’ll follow. That’s about all that keeps Baby Driver from being excellent, though. That’ll matter to a few people in the audience, but hopefully not too many. It’s a fantastic time in spite of this.

Baby Driver is such a fun film. That’s its strength, and it plays to it greatly. It’s relatively long for its premise, but it doesn’t feel like it. It’s stylish, action-packed, and filled with interesting characters, some of which subvert the expected tropes while others play to them, almost knowingly. It may not be thematically rich, and it won’t give you a ton to think about, but not all movies need to. Baby Driver is so entertaining that it gets away without doing so. It’s great.

Conclusion: Baby Driver is one of the most enjoyable theatrical experiences of 2017.

Recommendation: Go see Baby Driver if you like fun things.

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