Baby Driver, written and directed by Edgar Wright
The excellent, intelligent, sardonic, perhaps too much to the left of the political spectrum, amusing comedian Bill Maher is right when he criticizes Baby Driver and other films about driving a car- there is not much that one can find thrilling in an activity that we have to perform on a daily basis.
And yet, Baby Driver is more of a formula one pilot than one of those that are stuck in traffic routinely, even though there are races that we could watch, the Grand Prix of Monte Carlo and others where the likes of Lewis Hamilton pilot their super cars at speeds exceeding three hundred kilometers per hour.
Nevertheless, there is also a plot around the idea of piloting these vehicles, with speed, skill, intuition, creativity, boldness and a large dose of madness, alas, very little is new in this feature that somehow has managed to receive very good reviews from critics and audiences alike.
Baby is the hero of the motion picture and he drives getaway cars for bank robbers, hired by Doc aka the now disgraced Kevin Spacey, a man who works with different teams and is ruthless, eliminating those who cross him and members of their families.
The first team to rob a bank includes Buddy aka Jon Hamm and Darling - the two of them are partners in crime and lovers.
At the end of the heist, the loot is divided by Doc, but Baby receives only very little, probably about ten thousand dollars, and the mastermind explains in the parking lot that the young man only has another job to help with and he will have paid his debt.
I for one did not get what that debt was and it is actually less important, the crucial aspect is that an older man, a ruthless mobster speculates the advantage over someone who is only twenty maybe and abusese this position making the youngster work in an extremely dangerous, illegal position and pays him peanuts.
The second robbery is more violent, shots are fired, Baby has to drive a pick up truck- which is so much more difficult to operate - I have a Ford Ranger and I should know- and he proves his talents by exploiting whatever the heavier, slower vehicle has to offer: entering off road, jumping over obstacles and other astonishing acts.
Jamie Foxx is Bats, a violent, crazy, aggressive criminal who wants to shoot a man who had witnessed their attack and is chasing the Chevy pick up truck with a shotgun, driving another truck, a Dodge and coming close to blocking the path for the fugitives, when a maneuver of the hero prevents Bats from killing the concerned citizen, who was probably an ex Marine or some law enforcement agent in his free time.
There is a rather hazy side here- at least for this viewer- for it is clear that Baby does not belong with these hardened felons and he wants to stop, he even records their conversations about the various heists, but it is not clear how he came to be in this company and be an accomplice to serious crimes.
We see through flashbacks that, when he was a child, perhaps only a five year old, the protagonist has been in a car accident, provoked by his parents arguing all the time, but it is not clear how this fits with the robberies.
There seems to be an effort though to portray the hero as a sort of Rainman, or the main character in stories or films where the special man or woman is challenged, but at the same time he has almost supernatural, paranormal qualities.
Here the main personage has problems with his hearing and he has to listen to music all the time to cover the other annoying noises that he would hear in his mind otherwise, but he is not only an excellent driver, but he obviously has other superb qualities.
Bats challenges him at one point, thinking that the driver does not get anything from the plan exposed by Doc, since he always has his earplugs and listens to music, but we are all completely besides ourselves to hear Baby give all the minute details of the operation, as it had just been presented.
The hero falls in love with Debora aka Lily James- remarkable first in Downton Abbey and more recently in The Darkest Hour- who is a waitress at a fast food and who responds in kind to the romantic feelings of the protagonist.
By the way, one can appreciate the talent of the actor in the leading role, but this viewer was not mesmerized, in fact it felt that the performer lacked the charisma, the glow, ability to fascinate that Lily James has.
The third robbery is a disaster, announced to a large extent by the violence and the shootings that had preceded it, when the new team with old members went to get guns- which was in itself not credible: either they have a good well prepared plan, or they just go out to get the needed paraphernalia right before the heist.
Many are killed in a paroxysm of violence, a climax is reached, with victims on both sides and the denouement is very near and somewhat predictable.
The motion picture was appreciated, but this cinephile is not enthused, considering that Drive, for instance, with a much better Ryan Gosling in the leading role, was a superior offering on all counts...not to mention The French Connection, with an astounding Oscar Winner in the phenomenal persona of the Cineam deity, Gene Hackman, and other classics of the genre.