‘Baby Driver’ wows, dazzles and other positive adjectives

Baby, this movie will make you want to drive back to the theater

“An instant classic,” might be too common a phrase nowadays. Associated with films, plays and any song that is projected to earn a lot of profit in the box office or on the billboards, it can often be hard to tell which is truly a classic. As a millennial, I might not be considered the right person to judge what classic is, but “Baby Driver” has to come pretty darn close.

“Baby Driver” on the surface is a story heard all too often before. The protagonist, Baby, played by Ansel Elgort, is down on his luck and in debt to bank-robbery-mastermind-extraordinaire, Doc, played by Kevin Spacey. To pay his dues, Baby ensures Doc gets the money after every heist. As he navigates the dangers of getaway driving, Baby struggles to find the balance between his moral obligations to his foster father, Joseph (CJ Jones), his budding romance, Debora (Lily James) and to himself while coping with a debt he’ll never fully pay off. This all comes to a head when he must choose one life over the other, and be willing to risk it all to win it all.

Yes, on the surface we have seen it all before. It is even enough to render flashbacks to another film that rose to great success by tapping into its genre's rich film history, this year’s Oscar sweeper “La La Land." However, it is the addition of one key element to the story that gives it its weight, excitement and genuine unadulterated pleasure: hearing.

Elgort not only plays an expert speed demon; he plays a speed demon juggling with partial hearing loss. The way this plays out in the film’s score by itself is enough to dazzle the audience, given that the soundtrack includes 30 tracks and essentially creates the story’s narrative on its own. Yet, that excitement only builds through Elgort’s performance, as Baby must flow between talking too little and talking too much, being too intense and not intense enough, and all the while choosing every word with care.

“The Fault in Our Stars” chatty poster boy is gone and proves he is an actor ready to flex his muscles. He rides this wave spectacularly as if the part were made for him, effortlessly swaying through the different aspects his character must take on. The performance of those forced to react to him only extenuates this. Each adds their own flare to the mix such as spice, innocence, aggression, conniving etc. to create a delicious concoction for the viewers.

In the mayhem of the film’s final act, this puree of bold personalities mixes into glorious fashion and the true masterpiece of the work is revealed. The film’s core ideas of love, honor and responsibility aren’t hard to figure out and definitely aren't new. What this film excels at is exploring these ideas through a new lens and making sure that lens is sharp, crystal clear and laser focused. However, it is the film's incredible casting, soundtrack and accessibility that will have its fans racing back to the theater. 

Overall score: 5/5

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