“Baby Driver” (TriStar) is a loud, fast-paced, cleverly choreographed and funny action movie; as delirious as it is derivative. “Baby Driver” borrows liberally from a handful of its predecessors, beginning with 2011’s “Drive,” in which a pretty getaway driver played by Ryan Gosling is under the thumb of an ugly cruel boss played by Albert Brooks. In the case of “Baby Driver,” Ansel Elgort’s Baby (not his real name) is beholden to Doc (an especially smarmy Kevin Spacey) until he pays back a large financial debt.
Baby, who survived a childhood car crash that killed his parents, with the facial scars to prove it, is driven by music (his late mother was a singer). He possesses a collection of iPods and keeps his earbuds in place to drown out a bad case of tinnitus. Baby’s musical resources, including classic rock and R&B, as well as his own compositions provide an energy similar to what propels Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Director Edgar Wright, known for hilarious Simon Pegg collaborations including “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” enters Danny Boyle and Guy Ritchie territory, with a dose of Ben Wheatley (the warehouse shootout is pure “Free Fire”), while managing to avoid the overt violence and gore of Tarantino.
“Baby Driver” basics are as follows. Baby, who was raised in Atlanta by his deaf foster-father Joseph (C.J. Jones), is socking away the money he earns for his expert getaway-car driving skills. The first heist we see, a bank robbery, involves Buddy (Jon Hamm), Buddy’s girlfriend Darling (Eiza Rodriguez) and Griff (Jon Bernthal). The second heist, features thieves Bats (Jamie Foxx), Eddie (Flea) and JD (Lanny Joon), holding up an armored car. Dependable as he is daring, Baby gets the bad guys to and from where they need to be.
Ready to move on, but unsure where, Baby meets diner waitress Debora (Lily James), who renews his zest for life. As he begins to think about his future, Baby discovers that while he is squared up with Doc, their working relationship is far from over. Enlisted for a post office robbery job, which unites Bats, Buddy and Darling, Baby has no choice but to comply or run the risk of the wrath of Doc.
Predictably, many of the components, including the clash of Bats’ and Buddy’s personalities, seriously complicate the situation. The body count mounts, things get blown up, and lots of blood is shed. Through it all, “Baby Driver” never loses its sense of humor, due in large part to director/screenwriter Wright’s trademark comedic abilities. Even if this kind of movie isn’t your usual style, at the very least, you get to ogle Ansel Elgort for almost two hours. Rating: B+