The music permeating this film proves that even Hell can be endearing.
The legendary Peter Sellers will always be missed primarily because he can never be replaced. However, Writer/Director Edgar Wright brings to the screen much of the creative, eccentric joy of Mr. Sellers, and that is seen in his new film Baby Driver.
For those of you unfamiliar with the work of Mr. Wright, let me simply point you in the direction of his three offbeat works of genius, Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013). These films are monstrously splendid and deserve your attention.
But let’s return to Baby Driver, where Mr. Wright brings you a violent film packed with wicked humor and a soundtrack that dominates nearly every scene. The relatively unknown Ansel Elgort plays Baby, a young man forced to constantly listen to music through his headset as a result of injuries suffered as a child where his parents died in a car wreck. In the process, he has become one of the most accomplished drivers outside of Nascar, and he helps a mob hellbent on robbery and destruction.
This film resembles a reluctant trip to a rock concert where you leave saying, “Hell, I had a great time.” The mob in question is a sarcastic group of likeable thugs who have no problem killing anyone if it furthers their pursuit of greed.
This group of miscreants is led by Doc, played with sinister style by Kevin Spacey. Baby is forced to drive the getaway car at Doc’s bidding to try to pay off an old debt. While they obviously like one another, Doc would easily kill Baby if he doesn’t fulfill his obligations.
Seldom will you ever see a film dominated by villains, all displaying a sense of hateful charm. This includes Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, John Bernthal, and Mica Howard, and they all hold your interest despite the fact that none of them has an ounce of compassion.
Interestingly, two women play important roles that add some balance to the film. The first is Eiza González, who plays Darling, the lover of John Hamm’s Buddy. She is glad to concentrate on sex as long as she is still able to gun down an opponent, and you are not likely to forget her performance.
And then there was the endearing performance by Lily James, who plays Debora, the waitress who falls hard and fast for Baby. She is as sincere as she is endearing, and Baby quickly recognizes Debora as the love of his life. And if anyone needs to be reminded of Ms. James’ talent, then I can only encourage you to hunt down her splendid performances in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) and her commanding role in Cinderella (2015).
As noted, the music controls this entire film, which in part is due to the fact that Baby makes his own recordings from tapes he secretly preserves from various conversations. In the process, he constantly is involved in song and dance whether he is driving a getaway car or preparing a meal for his invalid, mute stepfather.
Director Wright has created a monumental work of art that needs to be seen on the big screen.