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Baby Driver (2017) skips a few beats

August 18, 2017
Through the social media grapevines and tv spots, Baby Driver rode a 100% approval rating on RottenTomatoes to become of the most anticipated movies of the year. Though the headlining cast and being familiar of director Edgar Wright's filmography made the action-"musical" sound interesting, there was a slight hesitation to jump and go see it. That was until the first six minutes were released by Sony on YouTube, of which I become easily obsessed with.

Essentially, the movie opens with Baby (Ansel Elgort) having successfully driven a heist crew out of danger from the police. His accomplishment gets him one step closer to working off a debt from a mob boss (Kevin Spacey). The final few jobs Baby has to deal with get more chaotic and unpredictable, ultimately putting his own getaway skills to the test to protect his family and new girlfriend.

In so little time, so much unfolds. First, the bombastic song that hits as Baby sits in his car, as the robbery gets more chaotic. And, then the pow of unbelievably smooth editing and cinematography as the cast tears up the streets. Wright's ability to wrap such a fast-paced action scene in tension hits all of the right notes. It's hella awesome, implanting an unforgettable adrenaline rush and raising the bar for what's to follow.

As great as the movie opens with this chase, it feels like a misplaced scene compared to the rest of the movie. Wright essentially kicks the movie off with a 0 to 60 sequence, and then strives to go back to the starting line to set up the characters. Somewhere along the way, and I have trouble putting my finger exactly where, the movie winds down pretty-average roads for an action flick, not really reaching for the originality its hailed for.

Essentially, in the first job, a complete synchronicity works not just with the production, but also the characters. The crew is all on the same page, so they can get the job done - get in, ruffle some feathers, and get out to snatch the big dough. They might not all like or know each other, have their suspicions about each other's personalities, but nothing's a big deal to put a hitch in the plans. Never working with the same crew twice, Baby must later contend with wild cards like Buddy (Jamie Foxx), whose unpredictable nature entertains at first, and then wears out its welcome. The further we follow the tragic reasons Baby's always listening to music and how the heists land him in hot water, the less engaging it is. The music selection and action scenes remain incredible, but the conflict drags on and on.

The cast holds up well with Ansel Elgort bringing a different kind of heart-throbbery from The Fault in Our Stars, alongside the ever-impressive chameleon Lily James and CJ Jones as Baby's deaf foster father. Baby's closest relationships are what makes him interesting, while his foes nicely played by Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, and breakout star Eiza González don't give bad performances. They just happen to be in the back half of the story that's the weakest. Everyone is able to sing in their own way, despite the story stalling to reach the finishing line.

Undoubtedly, Baby Driver starts out on a high and never takes its foot off the gas  The cast hold up in places, but the story isn't perhaps worth the hype it received. Without question, Wright lays a lot out on the table. Knowing his filmography from the zombie-tastic Shaun of the Dead to the comic book indie Scott Pilgrim vs the World, his passion project is a smooth infusion on the technical side. The movie never settles as a pure action flick, mixing in elements of comedy, romance, and even sometimes coming across as a noir-on-crack. Baby can make a heart skip a few beats, in good ways and bad.

Rating: ★★☆
Have you seen Baby Driver? What did you think?

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