So I watched Baby Driver…
Before I went to watch this movie, I had three separate people, THREE, tell me not to waste my time with it. I didn’t listen and ended up losing nearly two hours of my life to a film that’s so desperate to be different that it forgets to function.
Okay, basic plot: Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a master getaway driver working for Doc (Kevin Spacey) – a ruthless criminal mastermind who Baby owes a debt. Doc has a penchant for never using the same exact crew for robberies but has always used Baby as his driver because he believes Baby is his good luck charm. Baby wants out and after meeting waitress Debora (Lily James), he begins imagining a life away from crime. Unfortunately Doc won’t let Baby go that easily and pulls him in for one last job…
This film’s biggest drawcard is going to be its apparent “originality”. I say ‘apparent’ because I don’t think this film has an original bone in its body but we’ll discuss that in a second. I’ve only watched one other film by Edgar Wright (who wrote and directed this film) and that’s Scott Pilgrim vs The World; but looking at his filmography, I get the sense that he’s a filmmaker who wants to be unique above everything else. Different. That’s this movie’s biggest problem, it feels like it wants to be distinctive, off-centre, special but it doesn’t have the substance to achieve this goal.
There’s a scene very early on in the film where this becomes evident. Baby is making a peanut butter sandwich and instead of simply spreading the peanut butter onto the bread and cutting it into slices, he makes an unnecessary dance of the action. This scene immediately stood out to me because it felt like a farce. It felt like a nerdy, shy kid desperate to show he’s cool by acting weird and quirky even though he isn’t weird and quirky. Too many things in this film feel like they’re being done in an effort to be innovative and cool instead of an effort to provide an entertaining story. This leads to a lot of the elements that could have actually being cool falling flat.
Now for this film’s originality or lack thereof. This film revolves around a criminal with a heart of gold, whose mother left him a treasure trove of music before she died while he was still a boy. Sound familiar? Well then you’ve watched Guardians of the Galaxy too. You’ve just also seen this type of movie before: the good guy forced into a life of crime but desperate to escape for the ones he loves. It’s been done and, honestly, it’s been done far better than Baby Driver attempts to.
When I asked one of my friends why they didn’t enjoy this film they said something I thought I’d never hear anyone say. They said, and I quote, “Batman vs Superman had better logic. At least their moms had the same name…in this movie there’s no reason for anything.” There’s a moment in the movie, near the end, where one character acts in a way that makes absolutely no sense. The character goes from enemy to friend without any explanation, in fact, I think the only plausible reason for the switch was because the script said so.
Ansel Elgort is a young actor with heaps of potential who – in my opinion – has yet to consistently prove himself. I think he’s handicapped by Wright’s dull and self-righteous script (as is everyone in the film) but he doesn’t hit the mark you feel he could. Baby’s meant to be this stoic, man-of-few-words kinda character but Elgort portrays him rather blandly. His performance is flaccid and he never wins you over or makes you care about the character. Jamie Foxx is the pick of the cast and puts in an entertaining turn as Bats – a homicidal and often sociopathic robber who Baby’s forced to work with.
I really liked Bats and it felt like he was the character upon which Foxx based his earlier spoof, Motherfucker Jones, on in Horrible Bosses. Jon Hamm also puts in a decent shift but there’s something apathetic to his performance (not just in this film but in every film I’ve seen Hamm in) that I just don’t enjoy. Kevin Spacey and Lily James do their best but neither can escape the mount of ashes that Wright’s poor script buries them under.
Overall, Baby Driver is a film that just doesn’t work. It isn’t (consistently) funny. It doesn’t have loads of action. It isn’t original nor is it cool. I can’t think of a single reason to pay to see this movie. Give it a miss 4/10