REVIEW: ‘Baby Driver’ Is A B-Movie With Grade-a Filmmaking

Baby is not exactly a conventional name for an action movie character, but then again, Director Edgar Wright’s films are rarely conventional.

The film of course follows the lead character who goes by the alias Baby, played by Ansel Elgort. As the title implies, Baby is a driver, but more specifically, he’s a getaway driver for heists. In doing so, the young protagonist is able to work off a debt to a crime leader named Doc (Kevin Spacey) and at the movie’s onset, Baby’s almost done.

Just as he’s coming close to getting out of the crime world, though, he’s pulled into more heist jobs by Doc. At the same time, Baby meets and falls in love with a woman named Debora (Lily James), which only causes him to seek even more ways out of the crime world.

“Baby Driver” is a fairly typical B-movie, it includes familiar heist movie characters, themes and plot points. However, what elevates it above the norm is the fantastic filmmaking by Wright and his crew.

This great work is most notable in the film’s scenes that heavily utilize music, which are numerous throughout the entire picture. During these scenes, the music, sounds and visuals are perfectly spliced together for a great, immersive experience. For example, doors and trunks closing on cars are phenomenally put together with beats of a song. Mix all of that with well shot action/car chase sequences and you have something special on screen.

Going more into the visual aspects, the filmmakers also did fantastic work with the lighting and color. During the more lighthearted moments everything is bright and colorful and when things get serious the mood is set by darker colors and shadows. One sequence that shows this off is where Doc tells Baby that he basically can’t just quit his ‘job.’ During this time both characters are well shadowed here and it makes it all the more ominous.

Another example of this is during the movie’s climax. Without spoiling too much, I’ll just say that during the movie’s final action sequence there’s a police car in play and the red and blue flashing lights make it all the more engaging.

As for the acting, Elgort, who’s mostly just starred in the “Divergent” series, really does solid work as the protagonist here. Baby is largely a quiet character and as a result Elgort plays the role very reserved, which fits. This especially works during the action sequences when Baby is driving and Elgort portrays the character with a calm, collected confidence, almost reminiscent of Ryan Gosling in the 2011 film “Drive.”

For the more emotional moments where Baby does more interaction, though, Elgort still does a fine job. These mostly come up during his scenes where he’s acting opposite of Lily James. In these moments, Elgort makes his character rather charming and sells the romance between the characters well.

James, meanwhile, is great as the character who’s curious and captivated by Baby, which creates a nice dynamic between the two characters.

Credit also has to go to some of the performers who play the other criminals involved in the heists, especially Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm. Both of their characters are a bit generic as far as heist movies go, but the talent and charisma of Foxx and Hamm help push them to being much more memorable.

One character that created some issues with the picture, though, was Doc. First of all, Spacey is obviously a fantastic actor and his performance he gives is fine. However, the character does some things and makes some decisions throughout the film, and especially in the third act, that don’t seem to fit all too well, making things somewhat disjointed.

While on the subject of flaws, another one that should be noted is that at the end of the day, “Baby Driver” at its core is still a pretty standard heist movie. Now, it’s a very well made heist movie, but the story, the lead outlaw character with a heart of gold and a romance thrust into danger that are presented here don’t really do anything new. Without Wright’s direction this would be a much more average film.

With all that said, though, this isn’t an average film, it’s above average. The story and characters don’t break ground, per se, but everything here is executed so well that it’s worth going to the theater for two hours. It’s fun, engaging to the ears and eyes as well as having some memorable characters. 4.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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