Edgar Wright much publicized split from Ant-Man in 2015 made the full circuit of trade magazines as the events unfolded. The British director best know for working with his muse Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead, The End of the World and Hot Fuzz instead moved to Baby Driver as his next project and every gear head action fan should be very happy that he did.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is an accomplished wheelman. He lost his parents at a young age and started boosting cars before he hit double digits. One of his joyride outings targeted the wrong vehicle belonging to crime kingpin Doc (Kevin Spacey)who tracked him down seeking reimbursement for the value of the items in the dumped vehicle. Instead of breaking his legs and killing his deaf wheelchair bound foster dad Joseph (CJ Jones). Doc makes him the driver for all of his robbery jobs. Doc organizes, Baby drives while the other three members of the crew shuffle through.
The action sequences and soundtrack are the standout items of the piece. The opening frames features a chase where baby plays a red Subaru shell game with a police helicopter hovering overhead. Wright's writing quickly establishes our hero's quirks. The ever present ear buds to block out tinnitus "hum in the drum" effect of a childhood injury and the interaction between Baby and the rotating robbers that do the job's heavy lifting. Juxtaposed to his criminal activities is his mastery of sign language and lip reading from years of living with and taking care of his foster dad. His iPods with recordings to match his mood and his burgeoning relationship with Debora (Lily James) a waitress in the diner where his mom used to work who shares his love of song titles based on peoples names.
The makeup department featuring special tattoo artist Rick Stratton play a major role in topping off the criminals riding shotgun with Baby. The work done on Jamie Foxx's Bats and John Hamm's Buddy are especially effective additions to their menacing personas.
Ansel Elgort steps out from tweener heartthrob roles to essentially play the lead in an musical masquerading as an action film. Elgort doesn't actually break into song but he does lip sync pantomime, car dance and won't make a move until he has the proper song keyed up on one of his ever present iPods. The supporting cast is outstanding lead by the afore mentioned Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and John Hamm. John Bernthal continues to pick winning scripts playing Griff a member of the opening job. Look for Flea as a toughie (Eddie) in the middle robbery. He's involved in the funniest exchange in the film along side Lanny Joon as JD and Jamie Foxx as they argue over Halloween masks.
Baby Driver is fast paced, beat driven thrill ride for the senses. The high level cast do not put a foot wrong backed by strong writing and direction from Edgar Wright. It's Wright's first outing with an A-level American cast but judging by the rythm and rhyme of this production it won't be his last.
**** Out of 4.
Baby Driver | Edgar Wright | U.S.A. / U.K. | 2017 | 113 Minutes.
Tags: iPod, Sign Language, Lip Reading, Playlist, Bank Robber, Debt, Diner, Post Office, Sunglasses.