Friday, June 30, 2017

Baby Driver [2017]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (L) (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (A-)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (B. Tallerico) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

Baby Driver [2017] (written and directed by Edgar Wright) is an EXCELLENT, slick, doesn't miss a beat, (crime story) genre film that should make Hollywood proud.  Fictional, yes, with a morally edgy -- yes, they're bank robbers, yes, they're mostly psycho and/or evil and certainly doing evil things, "but" ... we do "get to know them ..." -- story, though set in contemporary Atlanta (nicely in the heart of the Bible Belt...), the story's trajectory is that of classic noirish gangster movies of the "Production Code" past (where Good ultimately had to be vindicated, and Evil could not be left to survive or let alone thrive...).

The story centers on "Baby" (played by Ansel Elgort) a prodigy of a "get-away driver" with a number of "psychological-ticks" born of "a tragic back-story":  He had been a kid, sitting in the back seat of his parents car when they, too busy yelling at each other to pay attention to the road, were crushed after crashing into the raised back of a stopped-semi on the freeway.  The resulting crash / explosion damaged his ears (making him listen incessantly to music on his iphone to drown-out a similarly constant "humm in his drum").  The accident also made him _really good_ at split-second averting of obstacles while driving on the road, or as we see in _beautifully choreographed_ 5+ minute _continuous shot scene_ (while the film's opening credits rolled) ...simply walking down the street ;-).  (Again, this is an _very_ well-crafted film)

Left without parents, "Baby" was raised by a foster parent, interestingly with a Biblical name, Joseph (played by CJ Jones), who we see the now early 20-something "Baby" taking care-of during the course of the film.  "Baby's" "swerve to get by" driving antics also had caught the attention of a local Atlanta-based gangster kingpin going by the nickname "Doc" (played wonderfully in ice-cold sociopathic fashion by Kevin Spacey), who then lured / blackmailed him into serving as the getaway driver for his bank-robbing crews.

Said crews often question the capabilities of incessantly headphone wearing "Baby," but "Doc" repeatedly went "to bat" for his young driver prodigy, noting "Has he (or I...) _ever_ steered you wrong?"

But as good as "Baby" is at what he does, and even as good of a heart has "Baby" does seem to have "in his off time" ... again, he takes care of his older, mute step-father Joseph quite well, and he strikes up a lovely (and refreshingly chaste) "made for Hollywood genre flicks" romance with a lovely, ever-smiling diner waitress named Debora (played wonderfully by Lily James) ... he's making a living in crime.

And that, of course, must change ...

How his life does change (and I'm not going to get into this further, because that would enter deep into Spoiler Territory) is truly in the best tradition of Hollywood genre films of this type, AND IT IS NICE TO SEE THE FILM-MAKERS TAKING THE TIME TO DO THIS RIGHT and not just for the sake of doing "due homage" to films like this of the past, BUT ALSO, FRANKLY, FOR THE SAKE OF THE NEW / YOUNGER GENERATION.

This is a film that Evildoers DO "get their DUE" ... and "Baby" did need to be Saved / Redeemed. For regardless of how "nice of a guy" he was, he still did wrong ... and _some price_ needed to be paid for his transgressions.

Honestly, excellent job!

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