Remember A Cure for Wellness (all 10 of you who saw it)? An original thriller, from one of the most interesting directors working in the industry, whose trailer showed much promise but disappointed due to bad narrative choices? The punchline is that Baby Driver is a major disappointment.
Baby Driver is written and directed by Edgar Wright. Stars-Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Lily James, and Jamie Foxx. Premise-Expert getaway driver Baby is forced into one last job before he can leave the business. Unfortunately, there are many more distractions, dangers, and unforeseen variables this time.
In the same vain as A Cure for Wellness, I don’t like Baby Driver because of how amazing it could have been. I realize I’ve said nothing about the actual movie yet, but this foundation needs to be set, otherwise you’ll not understand why I don’t like this movie as a whole, because it has a lot going for it.
For starters, Elgort is outstanding. His graduation from the “teenage drama novel” genre is seamless as he can carry this movie purely through his subtle, but charming performance. Another high point is the outstanding soundtrack! You know how a lot of recent action movie trailers obnoxiously sync up punches, gunshots, etc., to their royalty free loud music? Well, Mr. Wright somehow improved and transformed this concept into its own character. Every song choice is accompanied by fast editing, cinematographer Bill Pope’s long takes, and Elgort jiving to them. I know, this sounds like some “hip” car or iPod commercial, but it just works (I really cannot explain how, it just does). Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end.
As I stumble my way through this misfire, be wary of the difference between wasted potential, and an actual bad thing about the film. For example, wasted potential is found in the form of casting Kevin Spacey as the villain, but making every single line of his dialogue 1 of 2 things: a clichéd “bad guy boss” line, or something that makes him look like an idiot. You could tell from the trailer that he was not to be messed with (“Your girlfriend’s cute. Let’s keep it that way.”), but it’s never explained why the audience should be intimidated by him. The most we get is that he has higher ups, and that’s a flimsy reason (he doesn’t even have bodyguards). Not helping are some braindead decisions he makes. Like hiring a crazy Jamie Foxx (whose temper and personality are an obvious liability) for simple bank robberies, and trusting his driver who is clearly not committed to the job. On the other hand, an actual bad thing about the movie would be Baby’s babe (I’d tell you her character name, but I think it would be a spoiler, so we’ll just go with Lily James). She has absolutely no character. Aside from a fantasy of driving forever while listening to music, she is nothing but a nice piece of a** for Baby to fawn over so the plot can move forward. These would be simple distractions if not for one more thing… this film gets worse and worse as it goes on.
I’m reminded of Bolt, a movie that also started with a fast-paced chase that left you begging for more. Then it turned into a complex character piece with way more drama than the opening suggested. The same effect happens with Baby Driver, only it’s not as original, not as funny, and doesn’t have John Travolta. By comparison, the third act is something out of a Michael Bay film. I’m not dreaming this up; there was a notable drop in the pacing, energy, and style. The climax is especially terrible. For starters, it doesn’t one-up the opening (which is a requirement for action films), it drags on and on, and the overall big brash explosiony angle they went with doesn’t belong with the rest of the movie. The ending is arguably (if there was anyone who would argue it) even worse; mostly because, it’s so CHEESY. I may sound whiny about this, but since the climax/ending, is what you remember the most when you leave the theater, it left a very sour taste in my mouth.
Is that a look of denial on your face? Perhaps you’re thinking, “Who’s this talentless nobody? How and why did I find his amateur blog and continue reading the first thing I saw?” First, ouch. Second, I felt a similar feeling of disbelief upon leaving the theater. We’re talking about Edgar Wright here, who always delivers when he’s behind the camera, so I looked for reasons why this happened. To my knowledge, there are no sources to confirm this, but I chalk the Hollywoodization up to the production company… Sony. It wouldn’t be the first time they ruined a movie (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) with their childish insecurities of, “we have to make sequels!” It also wouldn’t be the first time Edgar Wright was screwed over by a producer (Ant-Man). I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I disagree with literally everyone when it comes to Baby Driver which gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a C+.