“All you need is one killer track.” With at least three levels of meaning, Baby Driver might have one of the best taglines of all time. If only the movie itself were as multi-layered.
Ansel Elgort is Baby. And he’s, uh, a driver. That’s all we know about him, other than that he suffers from a constant ringing in his ears and lives with an elderly mute black foster father. Why did he take an interest in driving? Who even taught him how to drive? No explanations are offered. We’re just supposed to accept that this is Baby and he’s a driver. OK, off we go.
He drives for a crime boss named Doc, played by Kevin Spacey, looking more like a bespectacled high school drama teacher than Tony Soprano. Doc and the cast of criminals he employs for various heists (Jamie Foxx, John Hamm, Eliza Gonzalez) are all broad cartoon characters. They have ridiculous tattoos, no backstories, and there is no hint at any real motivation. They’re not characters so much as caricatures there to serve the plot. John Hamm is unshaven John Hamm. Jamie Foxx is angry Jamie Foxx.
And you could squeal a stolen sports car through some of the plot holes. For example, Doc never uses the same crew twice because he’s so concerned about keeping a low profile. Yet, job after job, he uses the same abandoned industrial building as their headquarters. Wouldn’t every criminal who’s ever been on one of these jobs know where to find him? Also, for reasons that don’t entirely make sense, the reason Baby is forced into being the wheelman for Doc’s heists is that he owes Doc money. Each time he does a job, a portion of that debt is repaid. We’re supposed to believe Baby is desperate to get out. Why, then, does he accept a $10,000 stack of bills after every job? Think about that – he’s doing the job to repay a debt but also getting paid for the job. Huh? He seems to have hundreds of thousands of dollars stashed under his floorboards. Why not just give Doc whatever he still owes him from that and call it square?
But to stop and ask logical questions is to miss the point of a movie like this. You’re supposed to sit back and enjoy the car chases. And they are pretty exciting when they happen, but I actually thought there would be more of them. Honestly, I think one of the best chases in the movie is actually a foot chase.
And back to that killer track from the tagline. The music is definitely a big part of the driving scenes, and it’s done well. But listen for the music during the shootouts – that’s when it’s really impressive. In at least two scenes, the music and the violence unite as one audio experience. Drumbeats and gunfire explode in unison with the firefight on the screen. Coordinating that is much more impressive than playing an up-tempo song during a car chase, even if the songs are cool and make for a great soundtrack.
Edgar Wright is a director with a lot of style, but he could have cut about 20 minutes and tightened things up. Overall, I give this a positive review because it’s an Edgar Wright movie, and he delivers the entertainment you’d expect. But there’s nothing deeper here. It’s a tale of soundtrack and fury signifying nothing.
The ending is especially slow, and it’s unfortunate that a movie that roars onscreen so spectacularly when it starts, limps with such a whimper to the finish.
|Runtime||1 hour, 52 minutes|
|Starring||Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, John Hamm, Eliza Gonzalez|
|Production||Working Title Films, Big Talk Pictures, Dneg, TriStar Pictures|