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'Baby Driver' Film Review: Car chase karaoke

June 27, 2017Ben MK

Leave it to Edgar Wright to redefine the way we see our favorite films. With Shaun of the Dead, he put a comedic spin on zombie horror. And with Hot Fuzz, he added tinges of terror and black humor to the action-thriller. But with Baby Driver, the writer/director has outdone himself, creating a masterfully orchestrated genre mashup that's surely destined to become a cult classic.

A gripping heist flick, an edge-of-your-seat car chase thriller and a starry-eyed romance all rolled into one, with ample bits of sly comedy to boot, the movie follows a talented getaway driver named Miles (Ansel Elgort), who prefers to go by the name Baby. The go-to-guy for underworld mover-and-shaker Doc (Kevin Spacey), Baby lost both his parents in a tragic car accident that also left him with a case of tinnitus. Consequently, he's always listening to songs on his iPod — actually, he has several — just so he can drown out the persistent "hum in the drum."

Already anxious to leave his criminal past in the dust, Baby's plans to emancipate himself from Doc's gang are accelerated when he meets the sweet Debora (Lily James), a waitress who also happens to work at the same diner as his late mom, a once-aspiring singer for whom Baby still holds fond memories. Before you know it, Baby and Debora have fallen madly in love and dream of driving off into the sunset together. However, the lovebirds soon find the brakes slammed on their romantic getaway when Doc pulls Baby back in for the old cliché that is "one more job."

What follows is anything but clichéd, though, as Baby Driver takes viewers on a high-speed cinematic joy ride that drifts around corners instead of hugging the road, refusing to adhere to the norms of any of the many genres it so gleefully borrows from. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie or a sucker for sugary romances, odds are that you'll find something to like here, as the film serves as one big melting pot, skillfully toe-tapping around the tonal differences that separate, say, musicals and thrillers, sometimes time and time again within the same scene.

Of course, it's a boon that the cast here is as great as they are. And it's not just Elgort and James, whose extremely watchable chemistry plays a huge role in drawing audiences into their characters' predicament. Spacey's Doc proves imposing, yet strangely likeable, and avoids the lure of recreating another Frank Underwood type of persona, while the inclusion of Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal and Eiza González as members of Doc's rotating squad of thugs makes for an impressive and diverse supporting cast who threaten to steal the movie at any moment.

Last, but most certainly not least, there's the music that drives the film, which ranges from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's "Bellbottoms" to Queen's "Brighton Rock." It's an eclectic, soulful and rocking mix of tunes that you might not otherwise find on the same playlist, but Wright uses the soundtrack's unpredictability to his advantage, integrating it into the heartbeat of the narrative, giving Baby Driver an energy that spans from the opening heist to the closing credits. Suffice to say, when it's all said and done, you'll never listen to these songs the same way again.

Baby Driver releases June 28th, 2017 from Sony Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for language throughout and violence. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 53 Mins.

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