Baby Driver (2017)
This was a film I wanted to buy on DVD, following many rave reviews.
Then it turned up on Netflix, so I watched it.
I had never heard of the star, Ansel Elgort. He plays ‘Baby’, the driver of the title. He lives with his elderly foster-father, and for some reason owes money to a gangster, Doc. (Kevin Spacey) Baby loves music, and always has one of his many i-pods plugged into his ears. He is also a talented car thief and getaway driver. Doc sets up the robberies, using different gang members every time. But he always uses the same driver, and keeps his share of the loot to pay off the debt. When the debt is finally repaid, Doc tells him he has to carry on working for him, or something bad might happen to his foster parent.
That’s about it. But of course, there’s more.
The film kicks off with a robbery. One of the gang members is Buddy, played by John Hamm. He brings along his girlfriend, Darling, played by the very attractive Eliza Gonzalez. After the heist, Baby shows off his driving skills to the max, accompanied by the soundtrack in his ears, which we of course hear. Baby is very cool, and although Elgort looks very young to be such an experienced gangster, he carries off the role perfectly.
More exciting robberies and car chases follow, with other gang members including Bats, (Jamie Foxx) and Griff. (Jon Bernthal) Meanwhile, Baby has met an attractive young waitress, Debora. (Lily James) He starts to think about getting away with his new love, and making plans for the care of his elderly foster father too. But we all know crime is not supposed to pay, and nothing turns out the way Baby expected it to.
OK, we have seen this sort of thing many times before. Ryan O’Neal in ‘The Driver’, and more recently Ryan Gosling, in ‘Drive’. I will say straight off that this film is not up to the same standard. It is neither ‘serious’, nor ‘thoughtful’. It has nothing to say, and no point to prove. In many respects, it feels like a homage to similar films, with a touch of Tarantino about it. But it has two things going for it.
Elgort is just great as Baby. And the music is wonderful.
So can a film survive on one compelling central performance, and a lot of varied music on the soundtrack? Throw in an A-list supporting cast, yet still be one man’s film?
Oh yes, it can.