I am so weary of doom and gloom action thrillers. Too often are we subjected to burly Rambo types who slow-walked out of their mother’s womb, wielding a shotgun and a belt of grenades. You know what I’m talking about: protagonists without a sense of humor and often do little other than kill things. However, this isn’t always detrimental. Characters like John Wick and Judge Dredd would lose their appeal if they felt remorse as they piled the bodies high, but sometimes we just need a little more Peter Parker and a little less John McClane. “Baby Driver” delivers just that: an action hero that feels like a real-life human being. It’s pretty damn neat.
Our main character, the unfortunately-named Baby (Ansel Elgort), is a pretty average millennial. His music is too loud, he’s always trying to rush through work, and his soul is drowning in a tragic backstory. To pay off a debt he owes to a powerful crime boss (Kevin Spacey), Baby serves as a getaway driver in a string of bank robberies and high profile heists. After meeting and falling for his waitress at a local diner (Lily James), Baby finally zeros out his account and runs to freedom. Of course, nothing good ever lasts, and Baby is dragged back into the life he never wanted. With more at stake than ever before, Baby must drive to save those he loves.
“Baby Driver” is really easy to like. While the idea isn’t exactly fresh, it’s unique enough to stand above the rest of the pack. One thing that really stood out was the film’s excellent use of musical cues. The wide array of tracks “Baby” plays throughout the film breathes life into the narrative, and fulfills a purpose deeper than simply filling space. You’ll find yourself itching for your air guitar as the songs often sync perfectly with the action. Although gimmicky at times, it’s something that few movies have managed to do well (I’m looking at you, “Suicide Squad”). The film is fast-paced and exciting; I was pleasantly surprised to find myself unsure of what was going to happen next as the pulse-pounding third act raced by. As a cast… well, the actors definitely acted, though I can’t say any performance blew me away. It’s an action movie; nobody is seeing it for the acting, anyway.
This movie has its flaws, much like most people who aren’t me. As with many action films based in our reality, you have to stretch what you consider believable. It’s burdened by a few obvious plot holes, as well as some very confusing developments. More than once, a clearly defined character does something that denies what we know about them for no reason other than to advance the story. Maybe I’m nitpicky, but it makes what would be enthralling points disengaging, and there’s no excuse besides lazy writing. Be that as it may, “Baby Driver” is an above average thrill that’s definitely worth checking out. I give it 7/10 stars.
• Jordan Line lives and writes in Juneau.