Baby Driver

English director Edgar Wright has danced around the genres in his oeuvre so far, from comedy/horror (the terrific “Sean of the Dead”) to police/action parody (“Hot Fuzz”) to, well, who knows what genre “Scott Pilgrim v The World” really is? His latest and most successful film to date is Baby Driver, which tones down the comedy and plays fairly straight as a heist movie. Ansel Elgort plays the eponymous “Baby”, a youthful, introverted but preternaturally talented getaway driver whose tinnitus causes him to constantly play music through headphones to drown out the buzzing in his ears. He works for criminal big-shot “Doc” (a sauve but occasionally menacing Kevin Spacey), who plans assorted bank robberies and recruits a revolving gang of thugs to carry them out, always with Baby as the driver.

Baby Driver explores the tensions between the frequently unhinged criminals that Doc brings in, such as Bats (Jamie Foxx), and the calmer but no less psychopathic Buddy (Jon Hamm, unrecognisable from his suave “Mad Men” persona Don Draper) and his girlfriend Darling (Elza Gonzales), interspersed with genuinely thrilling car chase sequences, all conducted to the terrific soundtrack playing through Baby’s headphones. As Baby pays off his debt to Doc and starts to fall in love with waitress Debota (Lily James brandishing a convincing American accent), will he be able to escape his life of crime and start life anew?

The movie works because of its sheer energy, the dialogue crackling between the characters and direction keeping up a relentless pace, helped along by a brilliant and varied selection of music. This is not a film where you will be checking your watch. Relative unknown Ansel Elgort is highly watchable as the main character, seemingly out of his depth amongst the hardened criminals yet having just hard enough an edge to be plausible. The tough guy characters are perhaps a little over the top but by the time the film moves into its third act you can forgive the occasionally thin plot as you are swept along. This is a rollercoaster ride that you don’t want to end.

★★★★½

Baby Driver
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