Baby’s crash course in living as a criminal
30 June, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
Ansel Elgort as Baby and Jamie Foxx as Bats in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver
Directed by Edgar Wright
EVERY hero needs a calling card, a tic that gives them a dash of quirk that makes them different.
For this crime caper, ours is a boy who suffers from tinnitus, so to drown out the perpetual ringing in his ears, he has earphones in, blasting out the sounds.
It gives director Edgar Wright the excuse to make this all about the soundtrack.
There are 30 tunes and none of them misses a beat – it allows you to ignore the nonsense bravado the actors are churning out and instead tune in to golden hit after golden hit.
This is a souped-up musical using the originals instead of having some famous actor reveal they have a half-baked singing voice.
While no time spent listening to The Vandellas or Jon Spencer is time wasted, it feels like a lifestyle advert. How many shots of a bit of vinyl having a needle placed on it does a movie need to underline that its cool?
We meet Baby (Ansel Elgort) as he burns rubber with a gang of unscrupulous stick-up merchants. After showing off his wheelman skills, we discover he is the favoured getaway driver for mob boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) – but the kid is doing so under duress. He once pinched the mobster’s car that had a bootful of contraband, so he’s settling a debt.
Meanwhile, he meets diner waitress Debora (Lily James) and the pair dream of a better life together, which doesn’t include driving fast with cops in pursuit or pouring coffee for lecherous customers.
But the course of true love does not run smooth – or at least not as smooth as Baby behind the wheel – and we follow him as he fights both his conscience and the increasingly violent gangsters who want him to get them away from A and safely dropped off at B.
This looks good, has a bit of humour in it, and some seat-of-the-pants action.
But it suffers from a lack of originality. It is riddled with clichés, cherry-picking characters from the stables of The Usual Suspects and True Romance.
Its lead’s story (he is barely old enough to have a provisional licence) is as gooey as a fondue.
Still, it’s enough of a hoot to allow such wobbles to be drowned out by the squeal of tyres, the bang of a drum, clash of a symbol and howl of a guitar.