The best thing going for Baby Driver is that it’s very memorable. Like a lot of Edgar Wright’s work the imagery leaves an impact, though unfortunately, the dialogue less so. Fans hoping for a return to comedic form like Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead may be disappointed by the lackluster dialogue, but it’s clear here that Wright is stretching beyond the expected to give us something a little more Tarantino-inspired than we’re typically used to. The music and camera movement are vibrant and fill the flick with life beyond what its paint-by-numbers plotting does. There’s a vibrancy the supercedes the average filmgoing experience and rewards the viewer with a bit of old-school sensory overload, though far from the bewildering spectacle of say Transformers.
The movement isn’t quite Cuaron but it’s a step in the right direction, aping the colorful musicality of the dance sequence in 500 Days of Summer while grounding the story in a bit more gritty reality. There’s still a bit of goofball charm here, and like fellow white nerd Tarantino before him, Wright seems to take great pleasure in scripting lines for a tough-talking mildly psychopathic black badass, here played enjoyably by Jamie Foxx. Jon Hamm and Ansel Elgort fill their roles finely, but don’t give them any added panache either. The real pathos comes from Lily James as Deborah the love interest. She is acting her proverbial balls off in every scene, seemingly filling in the blanks of her character development by making the romance palpable with her gaze.
The script goes from fun-loving heist comedy to violent 70’s fetishism at a gradual pace, but thankfully in a movie about a badass driver, there are few slow segments. The violent acts of the finale make up for some of the cliche dork-ery of the story. The blind old black man that Baby cares for was cute, but felt a little hokey and ultimately fell flat for me. Unlike in Tarantino’s films or Wes Anderson’s where the music feels like a character unto itself, here the music merely drives the plot amicably from place to place as the exciting action sequences ensue. Surely it’s no different than any other action movie in that way? There’s an added charm here that puts Baby Driver ahead of the pack.