Sundance favorite comes to local theaters

Sundance favorite comes to local theaters

‘Baby Driver’

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey

Directed by: Edgar Wright

Rated: R

 

Heralded at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, “Baby Driver” has roared into local theaters, and it’s winner. The heartthrob of many a teenaged girl, Ansel Elgort stars as Baby, a fresh-faced cool kid who stays plugged in to his iPod at all times as if it were the constant score to his life. This is evident in the very first scene that has one of the best car chases I’ve ever seen on film. Behind the wheel of a shiny red Subaru, Baby waits outside a bank while the crew of Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) and Griff (Jon Bernthal) go inside to pull the heist. Just as they are sprinting back to the car, Baby spins the wheel on the iPod and pulls up “Bellbottoms” a janky, rhythmic groove from The John Spencer Blues Explosion and they’re off, with director Edgar Wright choreographing the car chase between Baby and a phalanx of cop cars through the streets of Atlanta to the beat of the song.

It’s just masterful how Wright keeps the connection between the action and what’s playing on the jukebox in Baby’s head throughout the entire film. And it is precisely what makes this one very original movie. Without giving too much away, Baby is currently paying off a debt to Doc (a very cool Kevin Spacey), the ringmaster of this circus of thieves. Baby has one more getaway job and then he’s free.

He has more incentive than ever because he’s recently met a waitress at a diner named Debora (Lily James), and it’s true love. Let’s pause here a second to heap kudos on Wright for his casting. Elgort and James have enough chemistry to light up Peachtree Center, and Jon Hamm has never been as bad, nor has Jamie Foxx, whose character, Bats, arrives later in the movie and starts the trouble.

Wright, who also wrote this, manages to keep the tension high, the characters interesting, and the action in overdrive throughout the running time. His previous credits include “Shaun and the Dead,” which enjoyed a small cult following, but nothing really hinted at Wright’s ability to steer something like “Baby” to the finish line.

There are some standout scenes with nothing but dialog driving them, and at times I felt like I was watching a David Mamet movie. There are also a few more adrenalin fueled car chases, including one in a parking garage, that are amazing and edited to perfection by Wright’s team. Throughout there is a retro vibe that speaks to some vintage heist movies, and there is a sly sense of humor built in to this as well.

But nothing was more surprising than the ending, which I didn’t see coming but served the movie well. Drive on over to a local cinema and see “Baby.”

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