Baby Driver is the latest movie by Edgar Wright. You may, or really should, know him from Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The fact that this was an Edgar Wright film is what convinced me to see it. Yes, the previews looked somewhat interesting and fun, but not so much so that I felt compelled to see this movie. But with Wright’s name attached to it, knowing what he was capable of, I decided to give it a chance.
And frankly, the movie is fantastic. The car chases are fun and exciting. The individual characters all stand out. The writing is clever and engaging. All of this is done well enough that the cliche, and somewhat predictable story is not really noticed. Spoilers ahead.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is an immensely talented getaway driver, doing missions for Doc (Kevin Spacey). The mission the movie starts on is a bank heist, in which the other workers are Buddy and Darling (Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez), and Griff (Jon Bernthal). This first mission, and its aftermath, decently set up what we can expect from the rest of the movie. First off, Baby is never without his headphones in. The soundtrack we hear as viewers is what Baby is listening to. The songs themselves are not important, but rather what music in general means to Baby is important. Music is an escape from life for him. Not only does it drown out a constant ringing in his ears from a car accident when he was young, that claimed the life of his parents.
After all of the loot is divided, Baby walks out with Doc, and gives almost all of his take to Doc. Apparently, Baby had tried to steal one of Doc’s cars with some valuable merchandise in it some time ago, and Doc uses Baby as the driver in order to take his share to back back the debt. But, Baby will have paid off the debt after 1 more job. (Just one day away from retirement.)
At home, we see that Baby lives with his deaf, wheelchair-bound foster parent named Joseph (CJ Jones). But here is where the cliches start. Baby meets a waitress, Debora (Lily James), and they fall in love pretty quickly. He completes what should be his final mission, and begins his post life of crime by delivering pizzas and taking Debora out to nice restaurants, but of course, Doc wants him to come in for more. And of course, Baby cannot keep his life of crime separate from his personal life. And of course Baby starts to really question his involvement when the hot-headed Bats (Jamie Foxx) becomes hot-headed and kills a bunch of contacts they were supposed to meet up with.
There just aren’t any surprises within the story. But, the writing does make up for it. While it is fairly clear where the path is heading, the path is worth walking down. Yes, Baby cannot just go along with the final mission, let everyone get away with their money, and then try to run away with Debora. You do need to show Baby doing something that is redeeming. Otherwise, he is just a criminal that is now retired. But by immediately wrecking, it falls into the cliche of characters that have been shown to be smart and quick thinkers do something completely stupid. I feel the smart thing would have been to go through with the mission, then as Baby does his usual coffee run, that is when you tip-off the cops. Sure, you lose the fight for Baby’s life that you end on, but really, the ending sequence is probably the weakest moment of the movie. It is a loud action sequence to cap off a movie that has tried to build itself on clever action sequences.
The story criticism aside, Baby Driver is a very enjoyable movie. I would encourage everyone to see this movie. Yes, there are cliches and cheesy moments, but those are well covered up by stellar acting and dialogue.