OK, let's back up and get our bearings.
The killer premise starts with Baby (Ansel Elgort ofThe Fault in Our Stars), an auto savant who can outdrive anything with the right music. With his flat affect, black shades and music-pumping earbuds (to drown out his trauma-induced tinnitus), Baby seems a bit like The Who's Tommy, only he's a wizard with a wheel and a hand brake.
"The opening sequence (a vehicle chase set to The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's "Bellbottoms") was extremely complicated", Wright says, "but at least you knew at the end of the day it was going to be exactly five minutes long". That might be part of the point, but it makes the movie's extended climax, with Baby and Debora in danger from crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) and his associates, hard to care much about. Baby has almost paid off his debt for stealing Doc's auto, but as the genre demands, there's always one more job.
The Baby Driver cast also includes Academy Award victor Jamie Foxx (Ray), Eiza Gonzalez (From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series), Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Jon Bernthal (Marvel's The Punisher). "There's a section where the lights go down and we just tell all of these stories". But then Baby meets and falls in love with a waitress at a diner where his late mother used to work, and this is Debora, winningly played by Lily James.
Wright has always been a visual storyteller so to say that this film opts for style over substance is essentially true but at the same time it's a little disingenuous.
Everything's a joke in Baby Driver, at least until the ending, when characters reverse themselves and Wright suddenly embraces all the clichés and devices he had been pretending to mock. And we quickly realize Doc has been forcing Baby to do jobs for him since Baby tried to rob him.
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How did the songs change over the years you were writing this? They talk and flirt and fall for each other and wax poetic about heading west on I-20 in a auto they can't afford with plans they don't have. Doc orders Baby to "sunset the car" when he wants it removed.
Ansel Elgort has played the leading role in two big movies and both would be better without him. I have been a fan of his Cornetto trilogy, especially Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. It's not computers that generate the fireworks - the stunts are mostly done in camera (kudos to cinematographer Bill Pope), which gives the action a you-are-there urgency that the digiverse can't match.
The British director's attention to detail pays off handsomely.
Wright remained a credited source on the final cut of the movie.
But the auto action in "Baby Driver" is unique. As Baby Driver progresses, with Queen, Young MC, Martha Reeves and the Vandellasand Simon & Garfunkel reverberating in Baby's ears and on the soundtrack, this one-of-a-kind filmmaker leaves his indelible stamp on every frame.