Baby Driver

Baby Driver ★★★★½

I just came back from the first official screening of Baby Driver's wide release, and I'm completely exhilarated, ecstatic, and exhausted.

My favorite young(ish) director made a film in my favorite genre that has virtually all fans and critics enraptured. My expectations, as you might expect, were pretty damned high. Edgar Wright managed to mach them with apparent ease. Unfuckingbelievable.

This is a very different Edgar Wright than we've grown accustomed to. The humor is still there, but it's entirely secondary to the action and suspense that builds to literally gasp-producing levels in the film's second half. By the time Hocus Pocus (by Focus) kicked in on the soundtrack, the movie became the most thrilling cinematic experience since Fury Road. The fact that the car chase action was all very real (no green screen bullshit here) gave the film a gritty, intimate immediacy that has been lacking in cinema for decades.

So why not five stars? For starters, Ansel Elgort just doesn't have the charisma to carry off the level of cool written into the part. The flashbacks do an admirable job making Baby sympathetic, but that is despite Elgort's saltine cracker blandness. Secondly, and this is purely a matter of personal taste, I prefer my car chases to go on for a loooonnnnggggg time. I'd rather have three long, killer set pieces than eight shorter ones. I desperately wanted a mind-blowing 30 minute car chase finale. I didn't get one.

But this is all really just pissing in the wind. It's a great time at the theater with a smokin' fun movie that, for once, isn't some bloated sequel hellscape. It's not as amazing as Fury Road (what is?), but it's better than just about anything else Hollywood has extruded this century. I'll be seeing it again tomorrow at the drive-in. Maybe it'll get bumped up to five stars then.

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