This image released by Sony Pictures shows Ansel Elgort, right, and Jamie Foxx in a scene from “Baby Driver.” (Wilson Webb/Sony/TriStar Pictures via AP)

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Ansel Elgort, right, and Jamie Foxx in a scene from “Baby Driver.” (Wilson Webb/Sony/TriStar Pictures via AP)

Reeling it in: ‘Baby Driver’ takes viewer on a wild ride

  • By Chris Jenness
  • Wednesday, July 5, 2017 10:08pm
  • News

“Baby Driver”

TriStar Pictures

1 hour, 52 minutes

As I strode back to my car after leaving the theater showing “Baby Driver,” I could almost hear a propulsive soundtrack, the beat matching my stride, and I had to resist the urge to hop in the car and peal the tires on my way out of the parking lot. The fact that I drive a Prius made that part a little easier.

A well written, well executed movie can do that — make you think in the language of the characters, the world sticking with you well after the credits have rolled. Writer/director Edgar Wright’s movies are like that. For Wright, the timing is everything. In his movies the soundtrack is a supporting character, and it’s no wonder that the whole goes together like a two-hour song. And a kick-ass one at that.

“Baby Driver” is the story of Baby, a phenomenal get-away driver working off a debt to a ruthless, yet fatherly criminal named Doc, played by Kevin Spacey. Doc sets up the jobs, puts together a crew, and Baby drives. And man does he ever.

“Baby Driver” is good all the way through, but the explosive car chase at the film’s opening is a masterwork. Of course I enjoy movies — why would I do this job if I didn’t — but it’s rare that I find myself grinning from ear to ear, simply delighted with the cool up on the screen. I remember feeling that way during parts of “Mad Max – Fury Road,” and I felt that way within the first five minutes of “Baby Driver.”

The plot that Wright and co. set up is pretty basic. It’s your typical “one more job and you’re out” routine. What makes Baby unique, aside from his devilish skills behind the wheel, is his specific disability. Due to a terrible accident as a child, Baby has permanent tinnitus, a maddening ringing in his ears, which he drowns out with a constant stream of music played through an old-school iPod. This music forms the soundtrack to Baby’s life and the propulsive, emotional beat that Wright plays his story to, but the music, terrific as it is, is only window dressing.

What makes Baby special, and what is revealed gradually, is his vulnerability. Highly skilled and mostly silent, it’s easy to confuse Baby with fully capable adult, but he’s just a kid, one who’s in way over his head. Baby’s world turns upside down at the introduction of Debora, a waitress at Baby’s favorite diner, who enters the film singing “B-A-B-Y, Baby” softly under her breath and steals Baby’s heart forever.

Be prepared to fall in love with Debora yourself. Actress Lily James, who you might also know from “Downton Abbey” or “Cinderella” is absolutely perfect for this role. She draws a sharp contrast for Baby as to what life can be as opposed to what life is. With this first crack in his armor, Baby is about to find out the hard way what kind of people he is really working with.

It’s hard to overstate how much I enjoyed “Baby Driver.” It’s not perfect. Wright’s “Hot Fuzz,” “Shaun of the Dead” and “Scott Pilgrim” are each, in their ways, more polished films, but in those moments when it’s firing on all cylinders, “Baby” leaves them all in the dust. I think it’s because, in many ways, the movie feels like a song, or a poem — something deceptively simple yet complicated and interesting at the same time, all set to an infectious beat.

As I said, it has a few issues. The stylishness of the first two-thirds of the film kind of dies away, perhaps necessarily, in the last act, and the very end goes on far too long. Wright was obviously in love with his characters by the end, and had difficulty streamlining the denouement. I get it — I was in love with them too.

I was trying to think of a movie like “Baby Driver,” and while I’m sure there are plenty of musicals you could point to, “La La Land” being the most recent, plotwise I was reminded of Quentin Tarantino’s blood and cool soaked “True Romance.” Clarence and Alabama’s star-crossed affair has the same kind of timing, style, and life and death stakes that you find here.

The difference is probably the same as the actual difference between Tarantino and Edgar Wright. The characters, even the bad ones, in “Baby Driver” are just nicer.

Which is not to say that “Driver” doesn’t have an edge. The supporting cast, including Jon Hamm, John Bernthal, and Jamie Foxx are stellar and dangerous. But be that as it may, I want to spend more time with them. And once this film is available for purchase, I’m sure I will again. “Baby Driver” is the most fun I’ve had at the movies this year so far.

Grade: A

“Baby Driver” is rated R for language and violence.

Chris Jenness is an art teacher, freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

More in News

The Homer Spit is evacuated during the July 28 tsunami warning at about 10:50 p.m. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Tsunami warning test scheduled for Wednesday morning

The National Weather Service will conduct a statewide test of the tsunami… Continue reading

A mock up of the Soldotna Field House. (Photo via City of Soldotna)
Soldotna designates field house funds

Construction of a field house in Soldotna took a step forward last… Continue reading

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks during a meeting of the House State Affairs committee on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Carpenter, Ruffridge target state finances

The central Kenai Peninsula’s representatives in the Alaska House of Representatives have… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19: Local cases fall after last week’s spike

After a spike of 50 new COVID-19 cases was reported in the… Continue reading

A tripod set by the Soldotna and Kenai Rotary Clubs stands over the ice of the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local Rotary Clubs testing new contest for next winter

The Rotary Clubs of Soldotna and Kenai are performing a test in… Continue reading

Alaska State Troopers logo.
State Trooper convicted of attempted sexual abuse of a minor

Vance Peronto, formerly an Alaska State Trooper based in Soldotna, was convicted… Continue reading

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna moves ahead with staff recruitment strategies

Soldotna City Council members last week gave city administration a thumbs up… Continue reading

State representatives Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, and Andi Story, D-Juneau, offering competing amendments to a bill increasing the per-student funding formula for public schools by $1,250 during a House Education Committee meeting Wednesday morning. McKay’s proposal to lower the increase to $150 was defeated. Story’s proposal to implement an increase during the next two years was approved, after her proposed amounts totalling about $1,500 were reduced to $800.
Borough, Soldotna call on Legislature to increase school funding

The City of Soldotna last week became the latest entity to call… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears goalie Nils Wallstrom celebrates winning a shootout over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears sweep Ice Dogs, move into 3rd place

The Kenai River Brown Bears earned a two-game sweep over the Fairbanks… Continue reading

Most Read