This car chase/heist thriller/romance is a far cry from writer/director Edgar Wright's offbeat comedies such as Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). Baby Driver is his most serious film to date, but it does have a wry sense of humor. It is very much inspired by Walter Hill's 1978 neo-noir cult classic The Driver about a getaway driver with his own set of ethics. The quirk here is that the driver, named Baby (Ansel Elgort), has a hum in his ears from a childhood car accident, so he puts in ear buds and listens to music as he evades the cops at high speed.
Because of a debt, Baby is forced to be the getaway driver of bank heists engineered by gangster Doc (Kevin Spacey). Jon Hamm, Eiza González, and Jamie Foxx play the dangerous lowlifes whom Doc recruits as the stickup men. Baby has a love interest in the form of Debora (Lily James), a waitress at a roadside diner. Of course, it's no surprise that she is put in peril later in the movie.
Baby Driver is enjoyable but it's never the exhilarating action ride one hopes it would be. The car chases, with the expected frenzied editing, are exciting but typical.
Wright does have some fun teasing us as to who the true villain of the piece is, but once that character steps up it takes forever for him to meet his demise. He keeps showing up, again and again, protracting the movie's running time to about a half-hour longer than it needed to be.
Then there are the wall-to-wall songs – artists include The Damned, Dave Brubeck, Queen, Sam & Dave and T. Rex to name a few – which mostly work throughout the film, but once the action amps up the music sounds garbled against the sounds of blasting guns, screeching tires and shattering glass.
The performances, especially Elgort, James and Spacey, give Baby Driver its charm and that is what fuels this ride to its finish.