Top Ten Movies of 2017 — Number Six


In the basic mechanics of its story, Baby Driver is familiar to the point of farce. There’s our hero, Baby (Ansel Elgort), referenced in the title, a young man of preternatural skill whose excursion in the seedier side of society belies an inner kindness and purity — a heart of gold, if you will. Then there are the crimes in which Baby is unwillingly enmeshed, bold heists and elaborate getaways, all perpetrated by assemblages of colorfully villainous figures, usually blessed with darkly witty modes of verbal expression. This riotous romp through genre cliche and character archetypes has been writer-director Edgar Wright’s default mode throughout his career, but Baby Driver brings it to thrilling new levels. Every bit of information is vitally important, whether to fill out a character, or — a remarkable amount of the time — to establish the cog on which the plot will later turn. And Wright directs the film with joyous verve, expertly cutting scenes to a procession of grand, unexpected pop songs and exploiting the visceral thrills that come with a movie that races forward, straining all plausibility while also staying firmly bound to logic and physics. Baby Driver celebrates all the potential embedded in the craft of filmmaking, where sound and images can be stitched together to set the pulse racing, to spin the senses, and to give a well-worn story the giddy shock of the new.