BABY DRIVER: Retro cool is the most accurate description I can apply to this high octane movie about a twentysomething (Ansel Elgort) with savantlike driving skills employed by a shady corporate type (Kevin Spacey) who finances bank robberies. The major draw here is the pre-CGI, ‘70s style car chases through urban Atlanta where vehicles actually are crashed with adrenaline fueled aplomb. Although such sequences in this flick won’t erase memories of BULLITT (1968) or THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971), they’re awfully good under the second unit direction of Darrin Prescott. The title character is an off-shoot of Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” from FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964) whose expression seldom changed. But in this case, his stoicism belies a millennial plagued by tinnitus that allows him to move and drive, without distraction, to his own personal soundtrack of vintage songs bought originally on vinyl. For that reason, I couldn’t help but think that director/writer Edgar Wright (SCOTT PILGRIM vs. THE WORLD) was nostalgically trying to set foot in territory normally inhabited by Quentin Tarantino (PULP FICTION) with his homages to B-movie fare and pop culture from previous decades along with the usual collection of sleazy characters. But as derivative as it is, the film is a real rush with especially good performances from Spacey (See CLOSING CREDITS.), Jon Hamm (THE TOWN) and Jamie Foxx (RAY). As entertaining as BABY is, it’s also rather preposterous in that hardly any traffic ever moves very fast anywhere in Atlanta. Along with that is a conclusion that might have you asking “just what happened here?”. Having said that, I still experienced a vicarious blast from this work that could have easily found a willing co-sponsor in 5-Hour Energy. It’s what THE FAST AND FURIOUS films were like before getting into the “can you top this syndrome?”. CRITIC’S GRADE: B+

CLOSING CREDITS: Here are some other excellent movies starring Kevin Spacey – HEARTBURN (1986), WORKING GIRL (1988), HENRY & JUNE (1990), GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992), OUTBREAK (1994), SE7EN (1995), THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)*, A TIME TO KILL (1996), L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997), a bug’s life (1998), THE NEGOTIATOR (1998), AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999)**, THE SHIPPING NEWS (2001), THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE (2003), SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006), HORRIBLE BOSSES (2011)

*Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor

**Academy Award Winner for Best Actor