The fun, musically driven “Baby Driver” is a celebration of style over substance. Writer-director Edgar Wright is up to his old genre-mashing tricks, disguising what’s essentially a love story behind a heist flick accentuated with high-speed car chases — all exquisitely choreographed to an eclectic soundtrack of classic jazz, rock and R&B.

The music makes this movie, as elaborate robberies play out against a soundtrack that includes the likes of Bob & Earl, The Beach Boys, Beck, T. Rex, Blur, Barry White, Queen, Simon & Garfunkel and Golden Earring. It’s a marvel of staging and timing. But the music can only mask the flimsy narrative for so long. Eventually, Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”) cops to convention when his leading man falls in love and in his telling of a robbery that goes awry.

Before that, though, the cast of smooth criminals with colorful names succeeds in stringing us along. Baby-faced actor Ansel Elgort (“The Fault in Our Stars”) plays the title character, a young getaway driver with a particular set of skills, a “devil behind the wheel,” as one character says. He’s your stock tortured hero with enough adversity to earn our sympathies — in spades. Baby is Asperger’s like — stoic, has a haunted past and is saddled with an infliction he manages by listening to an iPod 24/7. He’s also got a super-sweet relationship with his deaf foster dad, who signs “you don’t belong in that world,” as Baby stuffs another stack of ill-gotten cash under the floorboards.

The other major players include: Buddy (Jon Hamm), an ex-Wall Street drone turned druggie; Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), Buddy’s gorgeous, assault-weapons-friendly girlfriend; Doc (Kevin Spacey), the group’s ringleader; and Bats (Jamie Foxx ), a charismatic member of Doc’s gang. The movie revs its engine early. The opening scene is an elaborate sequence that plays out to the song filling Baby’s earbuds, “Bellbottoms,” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Elgort chair-dances in the driver’s seat, lip syncs and mimics a violin while a bank holdup unfolds behind him. Without missing a beat, he suddenly shifts gears and revs the engine and on cue the trio of robbers jumps in the car. A hot pursuit ensues through the streets of Atlanta with Baby showing off his unlikely driving prowess. The chase thrills, and for a while you feel like you’re right there alongside.

Then come the cartoonish performances, with Hamm the worst offender, Foxx is a close second, as his Bats clashes with Baby. More familiar tropes surface when Baby strikes up a romance with Debora (Lily James, “Cinderella”), the new waitress at his favorite diner. They bond over, what else, music. Baby is in love before there’s even a first kiss. The relationship is tenuous, and you wait nervously for the other shoe to drop. It does. Baby wants to end his larcenous ways. One final job, he tells himself, and then he can hit the open road with Debora and live happily ever after. Not so fast.

The movie’s narrative arc and character motivations are blissfully straightforward. Wright builds his script on the back of a killer soundtrack and after about 80 minutes he literally has to face the music. In doing so, he steers his vehicle toward an epic showdown that turns messy. It’s violent, loud, action-packed, confusing and utterly predictable. Despite all that, it’s the slickness of the whole endeavor that’s most impactful, making “Baby Driver” a stylish, if simple, ride.

— Dana Barbuto may be reached at dbarbuto@ledger.com or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.

“Baby Driver”
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Lily James, Jon Hamm.
(R for violence and language)
Grade: B