“Baby Driver” starts out looking to be nothing more than a fast story of furious thugs, but director Edgar Wright quickly turns it into a blend of “Reservoir Dogs” and “Romeo and Juliet.” Give this twisted sense of filmmaking a few moments, and the contradictions become a thing of beauty.
“Baby Driver” starts with a bank robbery and car chase. Behind the wheel is Baby (Ansel Elgort), who doesn’t look old enough to drive. But Baby is a maestro behind the wheel, treating his run from the cops like a choreographed dance. Part of that comes from Baby constantly listening to music to drown out the permanent hum in his head created during an accident when he was a child.
The brains behind the group is Doc (Kevin Spacey), a no-nonsense businessman who plans each crime with the skill of a general going into battle. He never works with the same band of thieves except for Baby, who has become a good-luck charm.
Among the criminals he hires are Buddy (Jon Hamm), a white-collar money wizard who took to crime after becoming obsessed with white powder. Buddy’s love, Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), is as deadly with her sexuality as she is with her guns. Bats (Jamie Foxx) is a psychopath who settles any dispute with a bullet.
The plan for one last big score begins to show cracks when Baby’s focus becomes split between the job and Deborah (Lily James), a Southern-belle waitress.
Wright manages to not only stage car-chase scenes that rival — and at times surpass — anything from the “Fast and Furious” franchise but finds time to spotlight each creepy but fascinating character.
Wright brings a unique and compelling vision to all of his work. In “Baby Driver,” the details range from a long, unedited opening sequence in which the words of the song playing in Baby’s ears come to life in the background to the use of everyday cars instead of the million-dollar rides that populate other car-chase offerings. Wright shows that the more a story is grounded in reality, the more it will connect with an audience.
Wright’s ability to modify movie genres gives his work broad appeal. The action sequences will entertain anyone who has a need for speed in films. At the same time, the romance is so sweet and real that it will tug at the heart of anyone who pines for a love story.
Rated R for violence, language. 1:30. Fayette Mall, Frankfort, Georgetown, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester.