The Romance of the Road Figures in the Heist Film ‘Baby Driver’ ✮✮✮✮

“Baby Driver” is like an extended iPod commercial which encourages you to have an iPod for every mood (even a bedazzled one) and not to be afraid of dancing to your own soundtrack in life. The driver is the tall and geeky Baby (Ansel Elgort) who is basically an indentured employee of a crime mastermind, Doc (Kevin Spacey).  Baby finds love and that complicates his inadvertent fall into a life of crime.

Baby uses music to override his tinnitus, a medical condition resulting from the auto accident that killed both of his parents (Lance Palmer as the father and Hudson Meek as a Young Baby in flashbacks). His mother (Sky Ferreira) had been a singer. Baby inherited that talent, often recording conversations and remixing them into music. His only family is his deaf foster father, Joseph (CJ Jones), with whom he communicates using sign language. Joseph depends on a wheelchair now and Baby is the provider/caretaker.

Atlanta-based master criminal Doc assembles a different group for each heist he plans; the only constant is Baby as the driver. While at first the robberies are bloodless, Doc includes trigger-happy Leon “Bats” Jefferson III, and things get progressively bloody especially when he’s teamed with lovers Jason ‘Buddy” Van Horn (Jon Hamm) and his thrill-seeking girlfriend Monica “Darling” Costello (Eiza González).

Fans of Mint Royale’s “Blue Song” will already be familiar with the concept of a music-loving getaway driver. The car chase scenes are exhilarating. Director/writer Edgar Wright has written a smart, funny action movie that manages to slow down enough for a tender romance between Baby and his favorite waitress Debora (Lily James). He does fall for those Hollywood tropes of the hard-to-kill villain and the Asian gang member (Lanny Joon) dies first.

Yet by no means, does “Baby Driver” glamorize robberies; justice is served for a relatively happy ending. You see the gruesome end of a Wall Streeter whose addictions have dragged him down to a sleazy violent way of life. Unless you’re in a movie, I don’t recommend dancing through the streets plugged into a soundtrack. You never know what’s really happening, making it a dangerous action, particularly for women. Yet I’ve been on a road trip, driving to specifically selected music (Western theme songs for a drive through the Southwest deserts, Stray Cats rockabilly for heavy traffic, and the soundtrack for “La La Land” for returning to Los Angeles). “Baby Driver” does speak to that dream of a great road trip. Roll in to see this action-packed romance “Baby Driver” and you’ll want to roll out for some road time because “Sometimes all I want to do is head west on 20, in a car I can’t afford, with a plan I don’t have. Just me, my music and the road.”

 

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