With blockbusters like Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes, Dunkirk, Atomic Blonde and The Emoji Movie coming this out month, July is looking to be quite the theater going experience. Finally after all these years we get to hear what the poop emoji sounds like. Something I know people have been asking for for years.
And boy will this month be expensive. Just seeing Baby Driver cost me $20. Of course that’s including concessions. Usually when I go to one of these things it’s in the afternoon, making breakfast my only meal of the day. Smelling everybody eating nachos, pizza and of course popcorn can make me a bit nauseous. So grabbing a medium sized popcorn has become a requirement. And of course if you get popcorn, you have to get a drink. I know complaining about the absurd prices is pretty pointless at this point, it’s like saying the sky gets dark at night. I had a friend who worked at a theater, stating that the only profit the theater really makes is from the concessions stand. Hence why the prices are jacked up.
The only reason I’m kind of bringing this up is because something sort of peculiar happened. It’s very benign, so don’t think I’m setting up this big story to tell you. I know for a fact I grabbed a straw for my drink, putting it in my pocket for later. So when I went to use it, it was gone. The lines for tickets and concessions were a bit longer than I thought, so by the time I entered the theater to see the film, it was already about to start. So if I went back for another straw, I’d miss a few bits at the start. And I’m not doing that. I don’t even get up to pee. I hold that in like a man, and watch the fuckin’ movie I paid a shitload to see.
So no straw, fine I’ll just drink it without one. So as I sit down, I of course put my drink down in the holder first. And as I sit down I notice now my lid is missing. It was just there when I put my drink down and now it’s vanished. I guess it seems fitting since I’m watching a heist movie.
Yes, I guess technically this is a heist movie, but a heist movie you never actually see the heists. When shit goes down, you never leave the car. To be more accurate this is a getaway film. You don’t really see many getaway films being made these days. That might have to do with the fact that the ones that do kind of suck. Like Getaway with Ethan Hawke. Or that Aaron Paul videogame movie Need for Speed. I think it was based on the game with the same title… who knows.
Now obviously I’m going to get into spoilers, particularly the ending. It was the only thing I had a problem with, so of course I’m going to talk about it. Before the ending, this film is basically flawless, masterful even.
A very unusual thing about this film that I don’t think the trailers showcased very well is this film is sort of a musical. That might actually put some people off to it, so I can see why the studio would hide it. Yes, you heard right, in a way Baby Driver is a musical, but also it isn’t. No one breaks into song and dance, yet people do technically break into song and dance. You’re confused, let me explain…
But first we have to talk about the titular character Baby. Baby, played by Ansel Elgort who has been in nothing worth mentioning. Shitty film adaptations of YA books. This is literally the only thing he has done of note.
Anyway, when Baby was a young child, his mom and dad got in a car accident, leaving them dead and Baby with a constant ringing in his ear. To help with his condition, he listens to music constantly. And things in the film move along to the rhythm and beat of that music.
When Baby was younger, post-accident, he stole a car owned by Doc, played by Kevin Spacey. The merchandise he had in the trunk that Baby stole needs to be paid back, so until then, Baby works as Doc’s getaway driver. Doc is a very bad man, he plans heists around town, even killing members of his crew if they fuck up. Thanks to Baby though, that rarely happens. They set it up like Doc will end up being the main antagonist. But guess what, he isn’t. He actually ends up helping Baby at the end.
Really the villain ends up being Jon Hamm’s character Buddy. I love the misdirect. He’s the only one on the crew that treats Baby with some respect. So when shit goes wrong, Buddy blames Baby. It’s like a switch is flipped and he becomes this shark, looking for revenge. He’s the killer whale from that Jaws wannabe rip off film Orca. Because of you I lost everything I loved, so now I’m going to burn your whole fucking world down.
But once again, I’m getting a head of myself. Let’s bring it back to Baby.
Baby is a wiz behind the wheel. I really don’t know who could out maneuver who if it came down to Baby vs Ryan Gosling’s Driver. That’s actually one concern I had going in. Was this just going to be a rip off of Drive? Safe to say it is not. But, how does Baby Driver stack up?
For one, I think Drive has better music to set the mood. Baby Driver’s soundtrack is kind of all over the place. At one point he’s even listening to Tequila, which segues into a giant shootout with gun dealers. It was like they stepped into the set of Free Fire.
So that’s one thing Baby Driver has over Drive, the action. There were a few but not many action sequences in Drive, even a slow paced getaway car chase sequence at the beginning, but what Baby Driver does is not restrain itself, stomping on the gas at any chance they get, even to its own detriment. The first heist there wasn’t a cop around, but after they speed off like a bat out of hell they have a whole swarm after them. I’m not sure that would have been the case if they didn’t speed away like they just robbed a bank.
The car chases in this film are amazing. There’s just something kind of boring about the car chases in the Jason Bourne films. Maybe it has to do with the shaky cam or the fact they’re always driving small European cars, but the chases always kind of bored me. The last time off the top of my head I liked a good car chase might be from Death Proof. Sure, The Fast and Furious films aren’t bad, but there’s always this coding of CGI that breaks the realism. But those films aren’t meant to be steeped in reality, they’re basically cartoons.
Me personally, I prefer a good foot chase. Which this film does eventually have. You can’t have a film with high octane car chases and not eventually take us out of the character’s element. Much like Heat where everything goes wrong during their heist, everything goes wrong for Baby. But we aren’t there yet. First we have to get introduced to a few of the crazy characters that pop up throughout.
I mentioned Doc, the ringleader and Buddy. But I didn’t mention Buddy’s sexy but deadly companion Darling. Who I knew I recognized but couldn’t put my finger on it. She plays Pandemonium on the sort of terrible tv series From Dusk Till Dawn.
These two are a bunch of coked up crazies doing bank jobs to sustain their drug habit. Unlike everyone else that rotates the roster, Buddy and Darling take a liking to Baby. Buddy even bonds with him a bit over the perfect getaway song.
Jon Bernthal was only in the film at the beginning, which is a shame because I’ve really taken a liking to him as an actor. I really wish he had popped back up later in the film. But in a way he was kind of replaced with Jamie Foxx’s character Bats. Both characters had an unusual dislike for Baby. Aside from Doc, Bats is really who you think will come to heads with Baby in the end.
Bats is bat shit crazy. Hence his nickname. Batshit. It’s kind of fitting that Jamie Foxx plays this character because he’s basically Lynch from Kane & Lynch, a movie based on a videogame that fell through. A lot of people like to hate on the game, but the co-op made it a blast to play. They made a sequel, but I never got around to playing it. A film adaptation was in the works with Jamie Foxx set to play as Lynch, and I think Bruce Willis as Kane. I know, I’m getting videogames in your movie review. My point is, Jamie Foxx is playing Lynch in this. Or how he would have been played him if the project didn’t fall apart.
Bats first shows up after Doc compiles a new team to rob an armored truck. Doc doesn’t like to use the same people, so he rotates. The only constant is Baby as their getaway driver. This new crew is Bats, JD and Nose played by Flea of all people. I’ve seen Flea in things before, having him pop up here wasn’t that crazy.
Some of my favorite movies has Flea in it. Motorama, Dudes, Back to the Future, The Big Lebowski… the guy has a long list is all I’m saying. Yet seeing Flea pop up here took me by surprise.
Like I mentioned, his nickname is The Nose, mainly because he’s missing half his nose thanks to his addiction to cocaine. Which seems like a running theme in this film. Shockingly, he isn’t the one to fuck up the armored car job. That goes to a Good Samaritan armed to the teeth, a military vet cashing a check, sees the robbery and decides to play hero.
Baby gets on Bats bad side even more when he stops him from killing the vet.
For an Edgar Wright film you expect a comedy like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Baby Driver is a bit of a departure, it isn’t without some humorous moments however, like when they buy the wrong masks. Wanting Halloween’s Michael Myers, but getting Mike Myers Austin Powers masks instead.
I wasn’t expecting Scott Pilgrim or anything, but Edgar Wright has made a name for himself by doing… I don’t want to call them genre spoofs, but that’s what Hot Fuzz, The World’s End and Shaun of the Dead are. But Baby Driver isn’t a spoof, it’s just a kick ass sort of violent getaway film with minor humor sprinkled throughout.
Things start looking up for Baby, he only has one more job left to pay off what he owes Doc and he’s out. The armored car job was the last. Baby has also started seeing Debora a young waitress he sometimes sees while getting coffee. They instantly take a liking to one another.
But like in the Godfather, once you think you’re out, they keep pulling you back in. Baby is threated by Doc to do one more job. If he refused, he might have to do something bad to Debora.
The new team consists of Buddy and Darling, back again, looking kind of hungover from a weekend of going on a coke bender. Accompanying them is Bats, who is instantly disliked by the pair.
Their new assignment is to rob a post office. Apparently they’re goldmines.
The group needs hardware, so Doc sets up a meet with some gun dealers he knows. But Bats suspects they’re cops and kills them. He was right, they were cops, but dirty cops under Doc’s payroll.
Doc wants to call off the job, knowing the city will now be filled with cops looking for them. But everyone else wants to risk it, relying on Baby to help pull it off.
Knowing if he continues, Bats will kill more people, Baby steps on the gas and rams the car into the back of a truck, shoving rebar pipe through his chest. With the car fucked up, everyone now has to ditch the car and make a run for it. While on the run, they get corned by the cops, Darling gets gunned down and Baby takes off.
Buddy, kind of going through withdraw and mourning the loss of his girlfriend, seeks revenge on Baby.
Baby goes on the run, the whole city looking for him. He grabs Debora and the two plan to leave town. But to do that they need the help of Doc. With some convincing he actually helps them, but not before getting run over by Buddy in a stolen squad car.
Buddy wants to kill Debora to make Baby suffer like he’s suffering. But neither of them are going down without a fight and of course more cool car action. Eventually they do get the better of Buddy but not before he temporarily deafens Baby.
So here is the part I had issue with. As Debora and Baby are on the road, trying to get away, the cops find them, surround them. Instead of trying to get away, Baby has enough and tosses the keys. He wants to give himself over to the police.
Baby gets a 25 year sentence, with 5 years until he’s up for parole.
And I guess she waited 5 years for him because 5 years later she’s there waiting outside the prison for his release. Not a terrible ending but not what I was expecting or wanted. He is this untouchable driver, maybe end with him getting chased by the cops… which I think is how Sons of Anarchy ended, right? Oh, no it started out that way then he got smacked into a truck. Okay, never mind. Maybe going to prison was the better ending. I guess I was just expecting something unexpected, I didn’t think it was creative enough. And for a movie that’s already so damn creative, the ending just felt like a letdown in some way.
Closing remarks. See this movie. It’s absolutely fantastic, not a wait for HBO or rental. This is one you got to go to the theater to see. Only to help support films like this getting made. You go see it at the theater instead of fucking Transformers and maybe they’ll make less trash. It’s a small hope, but you never know. I think I was the only one in line buying tickets to see Baby Driver. Everyone else was going to see Transformers 5. My showing wasn’t empty, in fact it was pretty packed. With a ton of old people surprisingly.
Make the effort, support good filmmaking. See this now!
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