Baby Driver is a fantastic heist film that places more emphasis on character development than on pyrotechnics and it's all the better for it.
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Baby Driver Movie Review and Conversation
In the world of movies, same-ness is the most normal thing in the world. I mean, after all, Hollywood is a business. And proven formulas guarantee a level of comfort that non-same-ness can’t provide. We’ll let you be different for 1 in 10, but DANG IT we will sequel the HECK out of it if it works. DO YOU HEAR ME YOUNG MAN? It’s just the way it works.
But La La Land dangit! Arrival! Mad Max: Fury Road! The Revenant! These movies PROVE that different works! (Seriously, compare all those box office returns with just ONE Marvel sequel, and I rest my case – says the Hollywood stiff.) But Marvel sequels are soul sucking! Anyway… you get my point.
You: But if different is good, what is Baby Driver? Me: It’s movie about a car driver, for heist teams. You: So basically, a remake of every other movie ever made. Me: But the driver just needs one more job and he won’t have to do it anymore. You: Yup, exactly a total remake of every other movie ever made. Me: Exactly. No, wait, but different!
So, this is every heist movie ever made, but different. We have a lot of the same elements. We have the kid trapped in a life style he doesn’t want. We have the kid needing JUST ONE MORE HEIST. We have the evil bad guy hellbent on keeping his lucky talisman in the game. It’s all so so similar to everything we’ve seen before. And yet. It’s not.
But the same could be said of La La Land. Right? It’s a Ginger Rogers and a Fred Astaire musical on steroids. It’s the same, and yet, so different. The same goes here. It’s all the same components, but told in a fresh, and completely different way. What is this movie really like? Best movie comparison is definitely Free Fire. That is the perfect example of what this movie is all about. Just go watch the movie, if you haven’t seen it already, check out this trailer:
HERE BE DRAGONS… Spoilers Abound
I recently took heat from a commenter that I ruined pretty much every movie I talk about here. But the reason I post movies is so that we can talk about them. Completely. And if people are reading these posts that haven’t seen the movie then, well, is that my fault? The last thing I want to do is to ruin these movies for you. But I think it says more about your self restraint than mine if you read a full review of a movie that you haven’t seen. Just saying. So yeah – if you have yet to get a chance to go out and see this movie for yourself. Take a pass on this write up. Even though I won’t be doing a fullon deep dive into this movie (generally just do that for the “trickier” movie types) I will be talking about it enough to give it away.
Baby Driver Overview
The movie kicks off with a heist. Baby (Ansel Elgort – Fault in our Stars, Divergent )
is our driver, and the team is robbing a bank. High speed car chase introduces us to what Baby is capable of driving wise. But soon we realize that the real brains behind this operation was Kevin Spacey’s character, Doc. Doc is the bad guy that continues to enlist Baby in spite of his rule to never go with the same crew twice. And the two met when Baby boosted Doc’s car… and now Baby is in debt to Doc for X number of jobs as his driver. And Baby becomes Doc’s lucky rabbit foot.
Along the way, Baby meets Debora – and the two discuss songs featuring their names, and music and their lives. Which, brings in La La Land, and the different-ness of the movie. There is a LOT of music here. (None of it that I am particularly fond of… but I get it, it’s all nostalgic and supplies a fantastic texture to the movie that harkens back to Baby’s parent’s day. Which, truth be told, is the entirety of the point of the movie. But I will get to that later.)
After Baby finishes his final job that he is forced to run, Doc forces Baby to run another job regardless. And this time they are all players we’ve seen in the two previous jobs. All three of them fairly high on the insanity scale; Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza González), and Bats (Jamie Foxx). It’s the last 45 minutes that clinches its fist on Baby and doesn’t let go. All he wants to do is to get on the road with Debora and run. But Doc isn’t letting go.
And as we careen through to the end the Post Office heist goes all wrong and Baby kills Bats by driving him into a parked truck and empaling him on some rebar or something. Why? Well, possibly just because Bats is insane, and he killed a security guard moments before. Darling, Buddy and Baby run and eventually and fairly coincidentally collide again in a parking lot. Darling is killed in a final stand against the cops. Baby runs, and Buddy follows. Eventually Baby gets away and is able to get his adoptive father to an old folks home. Baby then heads off to find Deborah (who’s been waiting since 2 am that morning) at the diner. But he also finds Buddy there as well.
There’s another final stand in the diner (which isn’t nearly the last final stand for Buddy) which finds Baby shooting Buddy and their fleeing. A few minutes later they meet again in a parking garage after Baby goes to get his tapes back from Doc. (Music and sound matter to him a little too much I’m thinking.) But when Doc finally agrees to give up the tape, and walk out, they find guys with shotguns, and… Buddy again. Car chase. Doc covers for Baby. Baby shoves Doc’s car over the side of the parking garage.
PHEW! Finally he’s dead.
Or not. Buddy had rolled out of the car before Baby shoved it off the edge. And he shoots his guns off beside both ears causing him to go deaf… or severely limited hearing anyway… and then goes after Debora. If Buddy can’t have Darling, then Baby can’t have Debora right?! But Debora knocks his gun out and Baby gets it, and in spite of his lack of hearing, kills Buddy.
Baby wakes to find he’s in a car with Debora driving. Only to come to a police stop. Debora tries to run. BUT! Baby takes the keys and decides it’s time to stop running. He gives himself up. And he gets convicted for like, 25 years, after a number of people testify as character witnesses to his tortured soul and good behavior. He’s eligible for parole in 5. He does his time, and Debora is waiting for him when he gets out. Roll credits.
Explain The Point of Drive Baby To Me
I’d like to hear your thoughts on the larger story and the bigger points that it is making. But personally the movie is 100% about Baby (or Miles, as we learn his name really is at the end) and the impact of his trying to deal with having a father that was abusive. Not only that, but both his parents died in a car accident while arguing and not paying attention to the road. Baby survives the accident but is tormented by demons as a result. Takes to a life of crime, ends up stealing from the wrong man (Doc)… and voila! We have our movie.
From my perspective… the significance of the ending is that Baby is deciding he’s not running anymore. He’s deciding to face the consequences to his life of crime and to the bad that he has done. And not only that, but we can extrapolate that he is also deciding to work through his issues about his parents and the surviver’s guilt that he obviously has. Right?
Hollywood’s Version of Morals and Ethics
Has anyone else noticed that Hollywood has a fascination with morales and ethics? It’s a jacked up system. But it is a system all the same. This movie illustrates it better than most.
For example, rule number one, all bad guys must atone for their bad guyness – atone for their sins, through death. Always. Hans Grüber goes off the deep end of Nakatome Plaza (survives, and then is shot by the off duty cop). Which highlights an important part of this system. The more bad a bad guy has done? The more times he should die to make restitution.
Also, if a good guy does bad… like Baby… there is a system as well. So Baby was indirectly connected to many “sins”. Bank robberies. Accessory to murder. Etc. Baby is a “good guy”, he is our protagonist. But he’s done evil in the sight of Hollywood that has to be paid for. So how does it work in these cases? Well, the first option is the noble death. He can lay down his life for the heroine, or for some greater good. That will pay restitution. Or, he must turn himself in… wherein, he will be given a prison sentence, that he will work off dutifully, and pine for his misses for the duration. Don’t believe me? Think back to Miss Sloane. Haven’t seen it? Do, then meet us over here to discuss it. She was our protagonist, but did heaps of evil to catch the bad guy, so she had to pay in prison time in order to make restitution.
Right? Does that make sense. Hollywood in the last 20 years has begun to be fascinated by the evil good guy that breaks these tropes and doesn’t make penance. But that is an exception to this rule. Generally speaking the rule is death, or payment… or the character has to fastidiously avoid breaking the big sins. Murder of innocents being the worst.
Final Thoughts on Baby Driver
Even in the name, Baby Driver, we hear echoes of Miles’ past. Echoes of his parents. Echoes of his lack of control and the desire to get control back. I quite liked the relationship between Baby and Doc. Doc was evil (and therefore had to die) but paid restitution to Baby for his being bad to him by shielding him from the shotguns. Right? I liked that it was sort of a racing movie, but not. The race at the beginning of the movie was really the only big race. And that was to set the stage for the movie and Baby’s skill.
But Baby Driver’s real skill wasn’t it’s racing abilities. It was it’s ability to paint gorgeous characters out of Baby’s back story. The movie used music gorgeously to paint a rich tapestry. And it was done in a very well integrated way. The acting was good all the way around. And Lilly James’ American Diner Waitress Accent (ADWA) was fairly passable. Though it did drive me a little crazy on occasion. But I’ll let it pass this once because the rest of her performance was so good. But it’s all about characters and story telling. Give me a character I care a lick about, and I’ll be your best friend for the next ninety minutes of the movie. I promise.
What were your thoughts about Baby Driver? Take it? Leave it?