I chose to see this movie under the impression that it was a heist film with music. It is an action/crime film crossed with a musical. It also employs some of the most over-the-top and unlikely special effects and scenarios I’ve seen lately on-screen.
This may not go over well with the film’s many admirers, aka, everyone in the world, judging from the onslaught of accolades this film has received, but there are good things and notably bad things about this picture.
Baby Driver is about a young man who goes by the name of Baby, who’s coerced by a professional slimebag (played fittingly by Kevin Spacey) to serve as wheelman in a string of robberies. This is all to pay off an old debt Baby owes the slimebag.
Baby is rather constantly plugged into his iPod and seems to do everything from walking down the street to escaping cop cars in hot pursuit to the beat of his ever-playing tunes. The whole point being that he’s musically inclined.
Let me explain my thoughts about Baby Driver in terms of “pros and cons” or “hits and misses”.
So, here are the hits:
The relationship between Baby and his adoptive father (who happens to be deaf and black). Even though Baby’s father is deaf, he can feel the rhythm of music when Baby plays it. He knows Baby could be doing much better things than robbing banks and so on for some scumbag. But Baby does it with the expectation that he can pay off his debt and get out from under. Do I have to tell you how well that works out? I won’t, but you can imagine, right? So, it becomes all about how Baby can protect his father (plus an eventual love interest) against Scumbag and his thugs.
Frankly, the father-son relationship plus Baby’s budding romance with an unhappy waitress, is the movie’s saving grace. Any story worth seeing is usually about the characters. If I weren’t a patient viewer, I might have given up on this film based on the opening scenes alone.
And the reasons for that are discussed under the misses:
The movie opens with Baby sitting behind the wheel of the world’s least inconspicuous red car. Who uses such a car to rob a bank? Seriously! Then, the bank robbers get out (All wearing sunglasses and black suits—ala Tarantino—including the girl, because there’s always a girl, right? Except she’s wearing a skirt. Who wears a skirt to rob a bank? But I digress …) and walk across the street to the bank.
Why would Baby park across the fricking street from the bank? Wouldn’t it take less time to make a getaway if he parked closer? But then, in a move that makes even less sense, right after the bank robbers return to the car, Baby pulls a 180-degree turnaround maneuver (ala Jim Rockford, if you’ve ever seen The Rockford Files), when he could have been parked on the other side and just gone straight.
So, parking across the street was just a feeble excuse for letting Baby make some cool (and time-wasting) moves to music before the big chase gets underway.
Implausibility 2: finding two red cars on the road and using them to confuse the police. Yeah, not only are Baby and the crew being chased by black-and-whites, but of course there’s a chopper after them. And, fortunately, our (anti)heroes happen to run across two red cars right next to each other on the road. Red cars just like theirs! Yeah, I believe that!
Then, in a plot device so ridiculous I had to wonder how anyone could agree to use it, Baby squeezes his red car into the lane between the other two red ones (who happen to be positioned just right). Then, they’re lucky enough to disappear under a bridge, where Baby gets the opportunity to make a maneuver that forces one car to switch lanes with him (but the helicopter can’t see it), thus eluding capture by getting off the freeway, while the chopper pursues the wrong red car! Um … right! This is all done to musical accompaniment, so that makes it novel or something. I guess.
And that’s just the opening.
I think my second peccadillo was that the movie was a bit too much like a cross between a video game and a music video. If a movie is supposed to be an immersive experience in which you buy into the idea that music is part of the world, my feeling was that this film was so choreographed throughout that it came across just a bit too self-consciously cutting-edge. It was kind of like a Gene Kelly musical on steroids. Except with music that isn’t as old.
Let’s just say the movie practically stood up on its hind legs and begged for our acknowledgment of how clever it was.
Finally, the big climactic scene at the end. You realize there has to be one of those, right? Because Baby must do a high-stakes battle with the bad/worse guys. Well, there’s one bad guy in particular who just refuses to die. Over and over. After a few times, the movie appears less like a musical crime caper and more like one of those horror movies where the end drags on and on, because the monster (which should have died 20 tries ago) keeps coming back to freaking life!
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play? 🙂
I loved the characters and the music. But … see above.
This movie was saved for me by the main characters and relationships.
I’ll give it a thumbs up for that! And the music. Okay …! 🙂
But if you want to see much better car chase movies, check these out!! 🙂
PS: I think they missed one!
PPS: Two words: Bill Hickman!