By Angie Raphael
Striking a surprisingly successful balance between 1940s film noir and modern self-awareness, Baby Driver is like an extended music video but with more story depth and a stream of pop culture references. Baby (Ansel Elgort) wears ear buds and listens to music constantly to drown out the tinnitus he suffers as a result of a car accident he was in as a child. He also mixes his own music using snippets of recorded conversations. Baby is working off a debt to crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey), who never uses the same team twice for a heist except for Baby, who is his exceptional getaway driver. But when Baby meets waitress Debora (Lily James), he has more reason than ever to live a straight life.
Writer/director Edgar Wright has a song playing in the background of almost every scene and the action revolves around the beat of the music, rather than the other way around. He also cleverly uses foreshadowing and symbolism throughout. Baby Driver is stylistically brilliant and the story is compelling. Unfortunately, much of the final act is disappointingly over-the-top, although the conclusion brings the story back on track. Elgort is charming and sympathetic in the lead role, while Oscar winners Spacey and Jamie Foxx, who plays the villainous Bats, are both strong but not distracting from their younger counterpart's performance. Jon Bernthal (Griff), Eiza Gonzalez (Darling) and Jon Hamm (Buddy) are also great additions as other bad guys working for Doc, while CJ Jones gives a bittersweet performance as Baby's only family member. Baby Driver is obviously a passion project for Wright and it is creatively unique.