Baby Driver (2017, Edgar Wright)

This is a pretty entertaining car chase film with a love story built into it. But it’s one of those films that fall apart the more you think about it, even though there are some touches that should elevate it to something more.

So before I get into nitpicking, I should say that I genuinely enjoyed much of the movie; I laughed a bunch of times and I appreciated some of the car chases. I was entertained.

And there are some interesting aspects of the film that you think might make it work better as a film. For one, much of what we learn about Baby comes back to play an important role in the end, like many different guns belong to Chekov. That can work really well, and it should work well here. But because other things don’t, they don’t necessarily reward like they should.

The other thing that is really interesting is the use of music. This is an Edgar Wright film, so of course there are numerous music cues, but I mean specifically going crate digging to find the samples that found their way into famous hip hop songs. Multiple times, a song starts and you expect hip hop and get…the original soul song (or what have you). I thought playing with our expectations like that was cool, though I don’t know what it had to do with the film.

There’s a real retro vibe – the waitress and the diner being the most obvious aspect – to this film that might work in a different movie but I can’t quite figure out what the point is here. Are these homages I don’t get? Is something else going on I missed? I’m really not sure

So there are problems, rather a lot of them:

  • Atlanta appears to have so many cops, and they are shockingly competent (except when it comes to staying alive). It’s a bit of a cliche that escaping robbers turn a corner and there are cops but…I mean, there are so many cops.
  • Kevin Spacey’s character feels like a plot device: he is a criminal mastermind but makes poorer decisions as the film goes on, including working with a totally crazy person he can’t trust more than once, and there’s no telling why he does anything, beyond moving the plot forward. Why does he send his bank robbers to buy their own guns all of a sudden? To advance the plot.
  • The father figure for Baby feels like a parody or satire of one, the kind of father figure you’d invent to make fun of other movies that create relationships to manipulate their audiences – you have to see him to believe him.
  • There was something else that I am forgetting.

On top of that, it’s too long for its plot. It doesn’t need its denouement but it definitely has too much fat in the middle.

The other thing is that it’s caught between a film that exists for its car chases and a film that just happens to have good car chases in it. It can’t decide which it is, so it doesn’t really satisfy either itch.

But I was mostly entertained when I was able to turn my brain off.


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