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Ansel Elgort plays a talented getaway driver, Baby, who works for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey). But after meeting the woman of his dreams (Lily James) he sees a chance to ditch his shady lifestyle and make a clean break.
USA TODAY

With his latest genre mashup Baby Driver, Edgar Wright ruins every exciting car trip around town you were ever going to take.

The skillfully crafted crime thriller (*** out of four; rated R; in theaters nationwide Wednesday) breaks away from the British writer/director’s usual comedic roots and unleashes exhilarating car chases and gun fights fueled by catchy songs that are just as important to the plot as the characters themselves.

Unfortunately, what’s missing is the quirky charm of his fantastic earlier works like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Stylized scenes like a ballistic ballet of firearms set to the familiar saxophone strains of Tequila are far more memorable than the people doing the shooting.

The main man behind the wheel is Baby (Ansel Elgort), a shy, laconic guy who’s become a legendary Atlanta getaway driver at a young age. Constantly at his side, whether waiting for his fellow criminals to rob a bank or just going for a coffee run, is an iPod with tunes that are literally the soundtrack of his life. (The throwback device reminds him of a childhood gift from his mom.)

Revolving members of his crew like Griff (Jon Bernthal) and Bats (Jamie Foxx) are irked that headphones are always stuck in his ears, a salve for the tinnitus he’s had since the accident that took his parents’ lives when he was young. But crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) — whom Baby is still paying off following an incident earlier in his career — always has the kid’s back, since he considers Baby his “lucky charm.”

Our hero begins to rethink his way of life when he meets outgoing waitress Debora (Lily James), but the more…