Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Critical Commentary - "Baby Driver"

I took in the much talked about movie "Baby Driver", written and directed by Edgar Wright, this afternoon.  To be honest, I wasn't sure how much I was going to like this, so I came into it with mixed expectations.  I came out of it feeling that I definitely was entertained, and I definitely got my money's worth for my admission ticket.

Twenty-three year old Ansel Elgort, a young actor with whom I was not familiar, played the title character, Baby, yep, that was his name, a young expert driver who served as the wheel man for criminal capers masterminded by shadowy crook Kevin Spacey.  Baby is almost constantly seen wearing ear buds.  Music is what drives him, and music is essential to him as he plays his role in these various capers.  Music, in fact, plays throughout the movie, and becomes as much a character in the film as any of the actors.

Ansel Elgort  

Other key figures in the movie are John Hamm (of "Mad Men" fame) as Buddy, and Oscar winner Jamie Foxx as Bats.  Perhaps the most charming person in the movie is Debora, a waitress with whom Baby becomes romantically involved.  Debora is played by Lily James....

Lily James

As I watched, I just knew that I knew her, but couldn't think of what show or movie I had seen her in before.  Turns out that she played Lady Rose, the progressive thinking and totally sexy cousin of the Grathams in "Downtown Abbey".  She was  quite charming in this one.

For what the movie is - a caper flick with lots and lots of action - "Baby Driver" certainly delivers the goods.  There at least four (hey, I lost count) auto chase scenes that make the ones in "Bullett" and "The French Connection" look like little old ladies driving to church on Sundays.  There is also gun violence, lots and lots of gun violence, in this one, so be warned.

I liked young Anson Elgort. He could be someone worth watching in the years ahead.  And a word about John Hamm.  Since "Mad Men" went off the air, you haven't seen much of him outside of those H&R Block commercials, but he is pretty good in this movie.  I have heard some people dismiss him as simply a "television actor", and maybe he will be forever known as Don Draper, but I think he comes through well as one of the bad guys here.

I was tempted to go with three stars on this one, but I am going to scale it back to two and one-half stars simply because of all the violence.  Yes, these are violent people being depicted, but we got the idea early on.  No need to beat us over the head with it.

Let me close with the title tune, which is played over the closing credits of the movie, as played by the great Simon and Garfunkel.

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