5*; Baby Driver (2017)

This was on the verge of being the “Black Panther” of chase-scene movies. Panther (link to my review) was a genre-buster this year as contemporary sci-fi/fantasy I actually liked. “Baby” begins with a typical Hollywood out-of-control chase. I could have dropped it at the curb after ten minutes — especially with five of those minutes showing film credits. Yet the music and the vibe seemed promising so I stayed long enough for a story and characters to develop, which they did.

Inevitably, the story’s plausibility plummets like a car off a cliff (and before we’re done, the car does indeed cascade off the proverbial urban cliff). Of all the coffee houses in Atlanta, they descend upon that particular diner in a Casablanca gin-joint way. Shotgun blasts delivered at close range are only temporary in a cartoonish Road Runner harkening. Then comes the Fatal Attraction element, and I am checking how much time remains; thankfully it’s a show well under two hours. Alas, a film with creativity and intrigue becomes a mash-up of stolen scenes.

I was still in tune with this effort past the midway point. The soundtrack is a curated collection of classic and contemporary selections that carry scenes forward. A keen highlight was demonstrating that songs are both very personal and also connect people. I couldn’t always tell the good guys from the bad in advance of their actions. So it has positives but, oh, Baby drove me to distraction.

*(star) ratings are my own … 5*=Five stars (maximum 10 stars)

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