“… in my opinion Baby Driver is a very inconsistent movie.”
Yesterday I went to go see Baby Driver (finally), and the experience I had was interesting to say the least. I’m having a hard time coming to conclusions on a lot of my opinions of this film, so you’ll have to excuse me if most of this review is me rambling incoherently. Baby Driver is a film that is directed by Edgar Wright and follows Baby, a very talented getaway driver who is used by a crime lord (?) to drive for every one of his jobs. That’s pretty much the gist of the plot, or at least I thought it would be.
The rest of this review will be talking about the movie’s plot in detail, so if you have yet to see Baby Driver I wouldn’t read any further.
Just before I start I want to say that I do realize a lot of the points I’m about to make are going to contradict one another. This is because I can’t seem to get my opinion on Baby Driver straight in my head. I may say that I hated one thing about one scene, but then turn around and say that I loved that same thing in another scene. This isn’t because I’m undecided, it’s because in my opinion Baby Driver is a very inconsistent movie. So you’ll have to forgive my shitty writing in this review particularly.
Baby Driver starts off with what is easily the best part of the movie: a car chase. In this introductory scene we get to see what Baby is all about; driving fast and listening to music. This is everything that the trailers and promotional material promised, and it was everything that I wanted out of the movie. Unfortunately that wasn’t all that I got. See, Baby Driver quickly changes its tone after this scene to one that felt out of place initially, but in hindsight it was the best clue for what I was getting myself into. In this scene Baby is walking from a heist meeting room, down the street to a coffee shop, and then walking back; all of this is set to music. Now I will admit that this scene showcased how wonderfully music was used in Baby Driver, and specifically how great the editing in the film was. We got to hear many real-world events synced up to the music that Baby was jamming out to as he was walking down this busy street. The problem is that this scene also showcased how heavily Baby Driver relied on music, and I wan’t the biggest fan. Instead of having Baby Driver be a movie that is set to a cool soundtrack (which is what I was hoping for), music was almost treated like its own character. This may sound cool in theory, but in actuality it made a lot of Baby Driver feel like a half-baked musical with the main character jumping around and dancing while lip-syncing to whatever song was blaring over his earbuds. And the thing about the music that gets me is that it wasn’t even that good most of the time. You’d think that a movie that relies so fucking heavily on music would have a soundtrack that would make you walk out of the theatre thinking “Wow, that soundtrack was amazing”, when in actuality I had already forgotten about most of the songs by the time the scene had ended. I’m not saying the soundtrack was bad, as a matter of fact some songs on there were amazing, but the problem is as a whole the music choices were just okay.
The biggest problem I had with Baby Driver was the fact that I just couldn’t connect to the story; and probably the main catalyst of that was the character of Baby himself. I haven’t seen the movie Drive for a very long time, but I remember liking the character of Drive (played by Ryan Gosling). He was quiet, but there was enough to him that you not only wanted to know more but you cared about him as well. Baby Driver obviously tried to emulate this character with Baby, and on the surface they nailed it. A very young getaway driver who constantly listens to music and rarely says anything; it’s brilliant. The problem is when you actually see the character in action they manage to do everything wrong with him. First of all, there is no mystery with the character. Why does he listen to music? Well if you saw the trailer you’d already know why. “He had an accident when he was a kid; he’s still got a hum in the drum so he listens to music to drown it out” is the quick, 30 second explanation of Baby’s most unique trait. Just like that it’s explained and never mentioned again. And then we get to see this accident, but only in 30 second chunks as if it’s still a mystery. We get it, his dad abused his mom and then they were in a car accident. But the movie keeps showing these scenes throughout the story as if we are getting new information each time. But then there are certain parts of Baby that don’t get explained at all which further separates me from the character. For instance, during one of the flashbacks I’m almost positive that we see Baby’s deaf step-father (?) Joseph as someone sitting in a recording booth while his mother is singing. Did Joseph know Baby’s mother? If not, how did Baby come to live with Joseph? Joseph seemed to be there as a kind of comic relief, so when time came for me to actually care about him I just couldn’t. And because of all of this the story seems really disjointed as well. Sometimes there are sweet car chases, sometimes there are heist-setup portions, sometimes it’s a drama about Baby trying to get out of the crime world, sometimes it’s a cheesy love story, sometimes it’s a musical, sometimes we are getting these weird 50’s fantasies where Baby is dressed like a Leave it to Beaver extra. Baby Driver is all over the place, and I don’t know what to think about it.
I guess we can talk about broader things like performances and direction, but I’m going to warn you that there isn’t much there. Let’s start with the performances in baby Driver. I would say that most of the performances found in the movie are actually pretty good, but I think that is no fault of the movie itself. In Baby Driver you have Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Jon Bernthal, and other amazing actors that take the characters presented to them and do something amazing. I will admit that a lot of the characters were very similar (in that they’re all crazy criminals), but they were fun to watch nonetheless. I didn’t like how Kevin Spacey’s character Doc seemingly turned on a dime at the end of the movie though. He was being his usual self and then as soon as he saw Baby with Debora he acted completely out of character. As far as the other characters in the movie I thought they were fine. Ansel Elgort was fine, Lily James was fine, but there was not much to their characters. I will say that I was disappointed that Jon Bernthal’s character seemingly died offscreen and nobody gave a shit. When you have a character literally say “If you don’t see me again, it’s because I’m dead” and then you don’t show them again to wrap up their arc, it’s a little annoying. I get it, it’s a joke, but I really liked his character and I was sad that he was only in the movie for about ten minutes. Luckily Jamie Foxx was there to pick up the slack on the crazy. As far as direction goes I think Baby Driver was fine. There were some great scenes, and some mediocre scenes. Really it’s a good analogy for the movie itself. I do want to point out that the disjointed story that I mentioned before was solved by the climax of the film, but unfortunately it came a little too late for me to care. This goes double for the actual ending of the movie, because as I mentioned I didn’t really care about these characters.
Overall Baby Driver is a really hard movie for me to pin down. The driving sequences were cool, but they were few and far between. Essentially what we are left with is a comedy that isn’t always funny, a musical that doesn’t always have music, and a drama with character that I don’t care about. Did I hate Baby Driver? No. Is there enough there for me to say that I liked it? I don’t think so.
I guess I give Baby Driver a C