Nobody puts Baby in a Corolla
Baby Driver (2017): 8 out of 10: Baby Driver is an action heist film from too talented by half director Edgar Wright who made Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim among others. Our main character Baby is a getaway driver who is a little off, a little young, and who listens to music on an old iPod all the time to cover for his tinnitus that he got in a tragic childhood incident.
The plot itself is a simple affair that would not be out of place in a Grand Theft Auto movie adaptation. Baby needs to do “one more job” for creepy boss Kevin Spacey (who let us face it is even creepier in the role now) while his heist mates are heavily tattooed, unstable, violent, sociopaths that are often not all that bright.
Baby has fallen for a diner waitress who shares his love of music and road trips, and they plan to drive off into the sunset after his task is completed. I am sure this will go smoothly.
The Good: Some movies are extremely well directed and you are never the wiser, except perhaps in retrospect (Logan Lucky). Other movies are extremely well directed and are not afraid to shout this out during the film (Dunkirk). Baby Driver is definitely in the latter category. From the opening one-shot where the scenery and character and extras are all perfectly timed to the music to the driving sequences done in real-time without CGI, every minute detail direction is all over the place. Baby Driver is a finely crafted film.
Baby Driver is also an entertaining film. If a film adaptation of say Grand Theft Auto V sounds entertaining to you, it is because it is. By making our protagonist a little off and his cohorts are so very violent, it creates tension in scenes where lesser films would have none. It also has a decent sense of humor with a “Halloween” mask gag being particularly funny. Baby Driver also sports a decent soundtrack.
The Bad: Emma Stone was originally supposed to play the diner waitress in the film (she did La La land instead) and the movie suffers for it. Lily James does her best but cannot overcome an underwritten role.
In Conclusion: Kevin Spacey probably cost this film a best director Oscar nomination and a host of other end of the year accolades. His scenes can be awkward or unintentionally funny in hindsight. I liked this movie more upon reflection than right after the original viewing (Yes, the ending grated on me as well). Some of the hokier heartstring-tugging scenes did leave me cold.
Some people will have a visceral dislike of this movie, and I get that. It is an artificial construct with a lead character that seems to morph as the script dictates. I liked the little touches, the music, the fun cameos, and the overall ride. It is the Grand Theft Auto V film adaptation I didn’t know I wanted by a director who never cannot entertain.