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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Baby Driver 2017 * * Stars

Baby DriverDirector: Edgar Wright
Year: 2017
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James

What if 2011's Drive was less dark, a little less cerebral, and contained a more stoic blueprint on what it's like to function as a getaway wheel-man. Well the result would be Baby Driver, my latest review.

Co-starring Oscar winners Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey, "Driver" involves a pretty boy named Miles (his nickname is "Baby" and he's played by Ansel Elgort). Miles for reasons unknown, is a driver for hardened criminals who love taking down many robbery scores. When Miles was a kid, his parents died in a car accident. He survived said accident but was left with a condition called tinnitus (the hearing of sound with no external sound present). Now, he uses music to drown everything out as he barrels past cop cars like NASCAR's Richard Petty on angel dust.

Image result for Baby driver 2017 movie scenesShot mostly on location in Atlanta, GA, "Driver" is obviously a car chase flick (duh). Steve McQueen's Bullitt used San Francisco as its go-to locale whereas Baby Driver gives the ATL some real top billing. I suppose Elgort channels his inner McQueen because at times, he hardly has any lines. On the flip side, the late Steve McQueen was always known as "The King of Cool". Ansel Elgort is better suited to be the dude you wanna play ping pong with. Not the same thing.

Anyway, critics have been salivating over this "vehicle" since it premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival (in March of 2017). I wanted to be part of that group but in truth, I found "Driver" to be a bit overrated. Three to four automobile chases between moments of tedium. Underdeveloped characters using spit-fire dialogue as a vice. A required love story with cutesy overtones. A musical soundtrack that overwhelms every scene as if director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) is re-shooting Guardians of the Galaxy. Baby Driver has all this and unfortunately, it doesn't feel very groundbreaking or memorable. The ending involving the obligatory one last job, is perfunctory, violent, and reads like a street sign signaling a screenwriter's "No Outlet". Heck, no one wants to see the protagonist go to jail for being at the wrong place at the wrong time (spoiler). What a downer.

Image result for Baby driver 2017 movie scenesIn jest, if you wanna see more visceral car chases, you could probably just watch one of the Fast & Furious movies or even catch the final sequence in 2014's Nightcrawler (that's not even an actual car chase movie to begin with). And if you choose to view "Driver", you'll realize that Wright is fast-paced in his acumen but he's no William Friedkin (just revert back to To Live and Die in L.A., enough said). Bottom line: Baby Driver might be the Rotten Tomatoes king of the moment (98% and pending). But for me, this whimsical fender bender with its cool hot rods, its queasy moving picture title, and its "La La" effervescence, doesn't quite reach "2nd gear". Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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