Pro – Fresh feeling

To be clear, Baby Driver isn’t full of new stuff. In fact, in many ways it’s an homage to a lot of classic movie tropes. Despite that, it feels fresh and new. Maybe it’s because there’s no spandex or the fact that it’s not based on a beloved 1980s IP, but whatever the cause, Baby Driver feels different.

Stripped from the confines of a world-threatening plot device or the baggage of two, four, or even seven previous franchise films, it has the space to breathe and be its own thing. It’s refreshing in its scope. The audience can relax and follow along with Ansel Elgort’s baby-faced title character as he races around Atlanta in a car and on foot.  All the while, the action is set to a great soundtrack pumping through Baby’s (yes, that’s his name) collection of iPods.

 

Pro – Acting!

The cast, and the characters they bring to life in this movie, are fantastic. The afore-mentioned Elgort is great in the movie’s title role. He plays the role with the right amount of youthful optimism, charm, and cockiness. The real fun here, though, is a trio of A-list actors who play their roles with great gusto and are clearly having a great time.

Kevin Spacey is great as a criminal mastermind who plans, orchestrates, and staffs the robberies that set the stage for the action in the film. It’s a role that suits him, and he is wonderful. Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx both play career criminals brought in on various heists throughout the film. Hamm’s “Buddy” is a package deal on jobs with his love “Darling” (Eiza González), and they are so good together I’d see a spin-off film about them with no hesitation. Jamie Foxx is the highlight of the film, playing Bats, a career felon quick to resort to overwhelming violence.

Con – Something’s missing

Welcome to terrible writing. I’m not sure how to explain this con. All I can tell you is something about the ending of this film left me a little blah. Maybe it’s that I expected to love this movie, and just liked it. Maybe a steady diet of superhero and Fast & Furious films has conditioned me to want something I didn’t get. Maybe it was the ending that seemed a little forced, despite actually being pretty realistic and satisfying. Maybe it was it was not quite getting enough time with characters I really liked and wanted to know more about (despite often complaining in this column about movies being too long). I’m not sure. All I know is this movie is loved by almost everyone and while I liked it a lot, I left the theater feeling a bit ho-hum.  Don’t worry, Baby Driver, it’s me, not you.

Race to the theater and see Baby Driver for something new and some great character work!