A Music Video Dressed Up Like A Movie

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Title: Baby Driver

Rating: 2 Stars

Baby Driver was a pretty good summer movie, but considering the 95% top critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, its overall positive buzz, and its pretensions to be more than just another action movie, it kind of fell flat.

The absurdly named Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver par excellence. A childhood auto accident killed his parents and has left him with tinnitus, which he alleviates by constantly playing music. The omnipresence of the music has given him a physical grace both inside and outside of a car.

Doc (Kevin Spacey) is a fixer that organizes robberies.  He caught Baby stealing from him, so Baby has been working off the debt by being his getaway driver. He finally does pay off his debt and tries to go straight, but in true gangster fashion, finds that Doc has no plans to let him ever stop. Doc threatens Baby’s new girlfriend, Deborah (Lily James), and Baby agrees to do another job.

With him on this heist are the psychopathic Bats (Jamie Foxx) and the couple Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez). Despite his attempts to avoid it, Baby ends up participating in the heist, which goes horribly wrong.

The chase scenes are well constructed and exciting. Baby displays a dazzling set of driving skills. Foxx is genuinely menacing as Bats. Hamm is genuinely charming (until he isn’t) as Buddy. There is strong chemistry between Elgort and James.

The music is the star here. Both the chase scenes and the violence are choreographed to a set of well chosen songs.

This movie also has the dubious distinction of making the best use of a Red Hot Chili Pepper. Flea does good use here as a criminal known as No-Nose.

Although stylish, ultimately the movie was somewhat cartoonish. The plot was somewhat nonsensical and was essentially used to set up the chase scenes. By the end, Bats was a cartoon caricature of insane violence and Buddy somehow became the embodiment of an unkillable terminator.

So, not a bad movie, but it was a victim of higher expectations. It felt to me as if it was a couple of music videos stitched together into a semi-coherent narrative.

 

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