‘Baby Driver’: Film Review | SXSW 2017

Wilson Webb

A movie-as-mixtape with few slots available for catch-your-breath downtempo tracks, Edgar Wright’s rollicking Baby Driver is a Gone in 60 Seconds for the La La Land crowd, a True Romance that relishes the long wait before its young lovers can finally go on the lam. A crime-flick love story as Pop-conscious as Wright’s earlier work but unironic about its romantic core, it will delight the director’s fans but requires no film-geek certification; given smart marketing, it should connect easily with multiplex auds.

Though it makes the most of its top-shelf talent, slotting Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey smartly into familiar heist-film roles, the movie belongs to The Fault in Our Stars‘ and Divergent‘s young Ansel Elgort, whose title character (“Baby” is a code name, natch) is a gearbox prodigy who never drives a getaway car without first cueing up the appropriate tune. Though always aware of his surroundings, he rarely pulls earbuds out of his ears: The music drowns out chronic tinnitus, and gives Wright an opportunity to treat many sequences like music videos or musical set pieces, going so far as to sync gunshots to drum beats.

Baby lost his parents years ago, and somehow wound up indebted to Spacey’s Doc, a criminal plotter much like Lawrence Tierney’s character in Reservoir Dogs. Doc hires a different crew for every daring robbery he plans, but Baby’s always the wheelman. As the story gets rolling, Baby owes Doc just one more job before his debt is paid. (Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.)

Baby’s a fella of few words, but what syllables he manages to drawl melt the heart of a…