Hollywood’s hardened getaway driver gets a makeover in British director Edgar Wright’s latest film Baby Driver. Baby (Ansel Elgort) does not look anything like the typical criminal. He is young, boyishly attractive, and has a penchant for dancing and sashaying through the streets with his headphones plugged in.
Doc (Kevin Spacey), Bats (Jamie Foxx), Buddy (Jon Hamm), and Darling (Eiza González) and Baby keep coming back together to pull off impeccably planned heists and robberies of increasing magnitude. Buddy and Darling are the typical dangerous crime couple, while Bats is unhinged and has no control over what he is doing, antagonising everyone around and discharging his weapon without a second thought.
Somewhere along the way, Baby has the time to meet young waitress Deborah (Lily James) at a restaurant. The two have only one desire: to escape the rigmarole of their daily lives, get into their cars and drive endlessly into the sunset.
Although such films as Walter Hill’s The Driver and Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive are firmly embedded within its DNA, Baby Driver does not have any of the hardened existentialism or philosophical ambitions of the two films, instead choosing to take its cues from the candy colours of Hollywood musicals. Baby is no weathered tough talking guy. He takes care of his deaf foster father and longs to leave his job, but his driving capabilities make for delirious car chases and thus keep him in demand.
A pure visceral joy is written into the film’s many set pieces, which have been shot without too many special effects and rolled out at breakneck speed. Wright makes up for the loss of his usual visual humour by amping up the action and violence. Eghort isn’t really able to become the enigmatic driver who can say a lot without really being able to do anything, but Hamm, Spacey and Foxx easily overshadow the actor both by the skill of their performances and the backstories of their characters.
“He’s a good kid, and a devil behind the wheel. What the hell else more do you need to know?” Doc tells the film’s group of toughs. Not much, even if he is a little dull.