** (out of 4)
Edgar Wright’s new action flick, Baby Driver, is the latest movie (see Hell or High Water, Rogue One, and Okja for other recent ones) to feature a mistreated individual as its main character. Unlike the characters in the aforementioned three examples, however, the injustice that Baby Driver’s protagonist “Baby” (Ansel Elgort) endures doesn’t come from an overpowering system but the lack of any meaningful adult figures in his life. The movie’s central conflict, after all, arises from the fact that Baby is continually coerced by a crime boss named Doc (Kevin Spacey) into working as a heist getaway driver. The various criminals Baby escorts to safety (Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Jamie Foxx, among others) on these drives, moreover, consistently treat him with a mixture of disdain and indifference. And then you have to remember that he lost his parents in a car accident as a child.
In a sense, Baby is the epitome of helplessness: a loner who’s alternately exploited and neglected by people older than he. Add the fact that he’s always on his iPod – in a testament to the intensity of Baby’s musicophilia, Wright choreographs every getaway drive to whatever music Baby is listening to in the moment – and you’ve got a character who could easily speak for an entire generation of tech-savvy, socially-alienated youth. Unfortunately, however, Wright’s attempt at capturing the millennial zeitgeist ends up flailing because he tries too hard to be cool.