‘Baby Driver’ hits the ground running

On July 14, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

“Baby Driver” is currently showing at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square.

By Dre Joseph

The one prevailing takeaway from Edgar Wright’s latest actionized endeavor, Baby Driver, I had rattling off the walls of my head was this: “If you really know what you’re doing behind the wheel of a car, you can have some serious fun. Note to self: Ansel Elgort is a super weird name. End note.”

Baby Driver, starring Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal and Oscar-winners Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx is not as timewasting and stupid as it appears to be. The protagonist, “Baby” (Elgort), is basically 2017’s version of Dale Earnhardt or Mario Andretti and operates as an unnaturally talented getaway driver for the portentous criminal mastermind “Doc” (Spacey).

At times, it feels like you’re watching a music video of an up-and-coming recording artist when Baby is passionately dancing to the beat of his own drum (literally, he turns regular conversations into instrumentals) while mouthing the lyrics of old songs simultaneously. The character, aided significantly by Elgort’s performance, is interesting to watch unfold on the screen.

Baby barely converses with anyone aside from his lovable, but deaf, foster-father until he meets the beautiful “Debora” (played by the charming Lily James) and constantly has Apple earphones plugged in even during the film’s most exhilarating moments.

Jamie Foxx continues his current string of mean character portrayals as a homicidal thug with a pension for tying up loose ends. Though Bernthal (if you haven’t seen him in Nextflix’s Daredevil web series, then just cancel your subscription already – just kidding … kind of!) filled only a minor role that would’ve been better suited for some veteran “no-name” character actor or a brand-spanking newbie, he still manages to add yet another noteworthy performance to his resume. However, it was Hamm’s rare descent into the unhinged and recklessly breathtaking character – not named Don Draper – that just misses stealing the show right out from underneath Elgort.

James, who is best known for her role as Cinderella in the 2014 live-action film adaptation of the same name, somehow (for the life of me) finds a way to be almost more enchanting as the singing-waitress Debora than as a Disney princess. Whether she was singing (more like flirting) with Baby or fleeing gun-toting psychopaths mattered little, she was still believable.

A lot of focus was given to Baby’s hearing condition, which was extremely evident with his vast, and prized, collection of personal instrumentals, including one labeled simply as “Mom.”

Luckily however, the entertainment value of the film does not begin and end with Baby. Aside from refreshing array of great music and high-octane car chase scenes, what Baby Driver does best is how it uses its cast of A-list talent. Nobody – neither Spacey, Foxx, or Hamm – overstayed their welcome, which allowed the young leads to shine even brighter as a result. Had a less experienced (or more easily intimidated) director been at the helm that might not have been the case.

I won’t dare presume to think that Baby Driver will appeal to every single need-for-speed freak out there or those who prefer slow to normal velocities. Still, though, the entertainment value of the film cannot be understated nor ignored, plus it is less than 2 hours long and that fact is a check in the mind’s “see it” box in and of itself. Presently, Baby Driver is playing at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square at times ranging from 2:00 to 10:00 p.m. I’m not a clairvoyant, but I’m willing to bet this won’t be the worst film you see this year, so give it a go, and if you do, tell them Dre sent you.


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