A review of this summer’s smash movie “Baby Driver”

“Drive” meets “La La Land” in this smash success of summer 2017 both written and directed with great panache by the British Edgar Wright. Is this a car-chase heist movie disguised as a romantic musical or the other way round? No, it’s a genuinely fresh and original mash-up of genres with a plethora of tropes from other cinematic work.

Like “La La Land’, the opening sequence grabs the attention and sets the tone. The eponymous young man at the wheel, played with a mixture of innocence and brutality by Ansel Elgort, is revealed to be someone with brilliant driving skills that enable bank robbers to escape any number of Atlanta’s police vehicles but somebody who needs to overcome his tinnitus by playing loud rock music into his ear pods.

Following the opening titles, a stroll to a coffee shop has all the cleverness of other parts of “La la Land”. However, the story-line – a laconic loner who discovers a woman who might be his escape from a life of crime – is straight out of “Drive” which, as a thriller, is actually the better movie.

There is lots of action in this film, with cars and guns in scene after scene, but what really makes the movie is the acting. This is a work where so many of the support roles are filled by actors who can and have top-lined movies: Kevin Spacey as Doc, the mastermind behind the heists; Jamie Foxx as Bats who is the wrong side of crazy; and Jon Hamm as Buddy who exhibits an almost “Terminator”-like ability to keep coming back.

The female roles – notably Baby’s love interest Debora (Lily James) and Buddy’s partner Darling (Eliza González) are not so well-drawn. And the ending might be viewed as a little too sweet. But, heh, this is quality movie-making that is going to be a classic.


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