Movie review: 'Baby Driver'

Brad Keefe

It's the season where some are calling out film critics for being no-fun snobs who can't enjoy a mindless good time. Critical blastings of seemingly bulletproof, dumb, wannabe summer blockbusters such as “Baywatch” and Michael Bay's latest “Transformers” are being blamed for their lackluster box office performance.

First, let me say this as a movie critic: people don't really listen to us that much. Lots of dumb, bad movies make a lot of money. Critical darlings come and go from theaters. It's not us, and it's not that we don't get a good time.

Besides, just because something might be marketed as mindless summer entertainment doesn't mean it has to be a complete throwaway. Enter Edgar Wright's “Baby Driver.”

“Baby Driver” opens with the kind of ridiculous, physics-defying car chase sequence that is the hallmark of action movies. It makes “Grand Theft Auto V” look like a documentary.

But it also sets up its fresh-faced hero, Baby (Ansel Elgort), a prodigy whose remarkable talents behind the wheel have made him a getaway driver for hire.

He's the only regular for a crime lord named Doc (Kevin Spacey), but he's ready to move on, in part because of his growing crush on a diner waitress named Debora (Lily James).

Of course, there's one last job he has to do. And, of course, it doesn't go as planned.

Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) doesn't shy from action tropes, including the reliable criminal with a heart of a gold. And, seriously, they always fall in love with the diner waitress.

His unique twist comes in the form of Baby's musical obsession. The driver listens to his collection of “vintage” iPods constantly, which gives an angle for one of the greatest movie soundtracks you've ever heard.

The deep cuts in Baby's playlist fit seamlessly with everything onscreen. The soundtrack could win Best Supporting Actor.

One big surprise from “Baby Driver” is what it's not. Its pace is breathless and near-perfect, but it isn't as frenetic or surreal as fans of Wright (this one included) might expect.

No, it's actually a slick, stylish and often straightforward action-romance, albeit one with plenty of humor (and even a little movie-musical flair) thrown in.

The cast also includes Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm for good measure, like it even needed the boost. This is summer action done right. Go see it, and drive safely on the way home.

“Baby Driver”

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4 stars out of 5