Baby Driver is about a young guy named Baby who drives. It’s also about the bad guys who use Baby and the girl in love with Baby. And it’s about songs that say “baby” a lot, just like this review so far.
This plot doesn’t sound very complex, which it isn’t. But Baby Driver is a film that proves audiences are willing to hear the same story multiple times so long as it is told differently. Edgar Wright — the energetic director behind Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim and (sort of) Ant-Man — uses sharp editing and a perfectly in-sync soundtrack of popular songs to turn a typical heist story into a dark yet whimsical movie.
Of course, dark yet whimsical is hard to pull off. Not even Tarantino can get it right 100 per cent of the time. Many moments of Baby Driver are hilarious (particularly the ones with Jamie Fox, who plays a wisecracking criminal), while others are rather disturbing (again, usually involving Jamie Fox). The dual nature of the film is hard to juggle for Wright and swallow for a viewer, and it will definitely be a determination for whether you’ll be satisfied or not.
Wright might seem to be aware of this himself, which could explain why he chose to play it safe with his main character. Baby is unnaturally pure, even for someone who is named Baby. His boss (played by Kevin Spacey, who isn’t stretching an inch for this role) has been blackmailing him into being a getaway driver nearly all his life. How haven’t the temptations of crime taken hold of Baby yet or caused some degree of sociopathy to manifest inside him?
Even more puzzling, why does Wright insist on making Baby so good and the villains so bad? Baby gets to take care of a crippled old man, have a lovely little romance with the pretty waitress (played by Lily James) and wear a look of distain every time the criminals do something nasty. He also gets a grotesque amount of cutesy moments, such as the opening scene when he dances in his car and sings to himself.
Such black-and-white morality could be excused in a more shallower film. But just how shallow does Wright want his movie to be? How much does he want us to relate to his villains?
Looking at all the villains in Baby Driver and how well all the actors pulled their characters off, it almost makes me wish there was no Baby. Just put Jamie Foxx, John Hamm, Eiza González and the extremely under-used John Bernthal in a car together and see where that takes us.
As for the actor who plays Baby himself, Ansel Elgort seemed only partially up for the task. He only manages to look angry at the right moments and stoic the rest of the time. Granted, there isn’t much one could do with such a stale role. The lack of character for Baby is hidden behind several eccentricities, such as his buzzing ear or how he makes mixes out of his cohorts conspiratorial talk. Could he be making mixes to help deal with the lifestyle? Or is he just that stupid?
The film is getting a lot of buzz in the critic circles. Or maybe, like Baby, all their hearing is damaged and they think people are actually buzzing about the movie, pressuring them into writing dazzling reviews. Well, my hearing is just fine, and I thought the movie was simply alright.
Baby Driver is serves as decent entertainment, mainly because it gets by on some great performances, snappy editing, enthralling action and a nostalgic soundtrack with all your favourite hits. They also happen to be Wright’s favourites. I suspect he made this movie not because he had a story to tell but rather a track to sell. And here’s the annoying thing: people are buying it.