On a great recommendation from my buddy Kyle who now hates my guts for saying this movie isn’t at all what it’s hyped up to be, I sat down with my missus to watch the 2-hour long, Edgar-Wright-directed romp that starts out with a bang and ends with an hour and 45 minutes worth of blunders...
Quick rundown if you haven’t seen it, Baby Driver focuses on the titular character who gets embroiled in a criminal group that performs heists under the leadership of Kevin I-can’t-believe-I -agreed-to-star-in-this Spacey. A tragic backstory, a bad choice in early life, and an innate skill for driving fast means that Baby (aka Miles) is Spacey’s go-to getaway guy for a series of heists.
One love interest and one character played by Jamie Foxx rubbing Baby the wrong way one too many times later and shit hits the fan causing the third heist we’re shown to go tits up and have every bad guy pretty much die as well as plop Baby squarely in jail.
But it’s ok, he gets out after 5 years and gets to make out with Lily James and they drive off into the sunset. Cool.
Now for the expanded universe take…
Oh, baby… Every other song may be about you, but it takes more than just songs to carry a movie. And more is what this movie lacked. More of what? Well, everything, really.
There’s a story there, sure, but it’s equal parts GTA fanfic, rom-com, and discount Guardians of the Galaxy all the while hitting too few high notes on either side to really work.
The acting lacked for almost everyone involved, although to be honest I’m never sure if I’m watching John Hamm or actual ham. Almost everyone seemed to just be there for the most part. Elgort only looks good when he’s dancing, Jamie Foxx is making a glorified cameo as Jamie Foxx, and Lily James did her part as the innocent gal caught in the crossfire.
Nutshell? I haven’t seen as much phoning in since my aunt’s days as an operator.
Kevin Spacey looks somewhere between catatonic and constipated, and the only range and nuance we get out of his character comes at the tail end of the movie’s runtime, and his own for that matter, as he gets bananas-d up by a bunch of corrupt cops.
John Bernthal makes a quick turn as the dickish punk robber, but he’s there for too little to save anything. On the other hand, he’s there just long enough to make an impact while also dodging the bullet named “the rest of this damn film”.
John Hamm’s love interest is yet another vacuous charisma pit with her delivery bordering on Epic Movie levels of bad, including a monologue so damn cheesy it even puts Byron’s dairy-tastic burger to shame.
But the thing is, the acting wouldn’t be enough to bring this film down, hell, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a household name and he sure as hell didn’t get there for his thespian acumen, but sadly the pacing of this over-stuffed pie is all over the place. And how!
If you’ve seen the starting sequence of this film, stop. That’s the best you’re gonna get, fuzzy and choppy editing choices aside. If the movie carried on in that vein, it’d have been pretty darn awesome, but it takes its time between heists to lay the groundwork for the emotional investment we’re supposed to bank on Baby. And I didn’t.
A deaf, care-needing foster dad and social awkwardness do not an endearing character make in my book, and neither does the perennial look of Idgaf lite or sheepish love plastered over Elgort’s face for most of the runtime.
The heist setups and coffee trips are interspersed with Baby meeting Lily James’ character (whose name I forget and I don’t care enough to check at this point so this’ll do) and falling in love at first sight. This movie’s one unexpected pregnancy and a couple disgraced drug-addicts away from getting its own entry on Cinema Tro-
One unexpected pregnancy from getting its own entry on Cinema Tropes.
Segueing back to Baby’s love interest: ah, teen love! So awkward, so passionate, so alive, so… so why does it fall as flat?
Alright, granted, I was actually pulling for the kids to make it scot free in the end, far fetched as it seemed, but part of that is just because I wanted the movie to end sooner. It didn’t. They had to show us the “after jail” bit, just so we can have our fairytale-ish ending. Guess that’s partly to blame on Lily James and her 2013 turn as Cinderella.
There’s another couple good car chase moments (not necessarily entire sequences) scattered throughout the film, and they do serve to push the plot forward and the rhythm up, but they’re the odd backfire rather than the constant high rev the movie seemed to aim for.
The finale gets bloody and tries to up the uncertainty factor, but it’s done with such a B-horror-movie level of “good golly, gosh, darn, I wonder what’s gonna happen next!” predictability that it takes away every bit of suspense that may have built up to that point.
As a final point, the movie really tries to be lots of things and ends up being great at neither, and only passable at most. Just like me and my inability to focus on one thing alone for extended periods of time (which is why this document had nothing but a title for about 2 weeks), Baby Driver acts like… pretty much a baby coming into contact with the world for the first time.
It thinks it finds its legs early in the runtime, but it’s a far cry for being able to plod along giddily in search of adventure, getting tripped up on stale set pieces and age-old tropes and does away with the really exciting bits in order to tell really boring side stories.
As a movie aficionado and a pretentious llama, this thing wasn’t what I expected. In the worst way possible. And that’s a shame, because I’d really like for Payday to add a car chase module so I can play the videogame version of what this movie was supposed to be.
Until such time, the Gung-Ho Geeks rate this: 5 flywheels out of 10.
Thanks for reading, and have as nice a day as you deserve!