Thursday, 6 July 2017

Baby Driver



The super-stylish Baby Driver is wowing critics (including most of my favourite critics) and viewers alike, so I thought I’d better go see what the fuss was about. Was I wowed? First clue: Did you see a ‘Wow’ at the start of my review?

Written and directed by Edgar Wright, Baby Driver is about a young getaway driver named Baby (played by Ansel Elgort) who gets in way over his head when he agrees to work for a master thief named Doc (Kevin Spacey) in order to pay off a debt (he stole something from Doc). Baby, who lives in a small apartment with his deaf foster father, Joseph (CJ Jones), longs for a normal life in which he can use his driving skills to deliver pizzas instead of eluding twenty police cars and a helicopter, and in which he can date Debora (Lily James), the new waitress at his favourite diner, without worrying about whether he’ll survive Doc’s next ‘job’. 

Baby has suffered from tinnitus since the accident that killed his parents when he was five or so, and now he listens to loud music all the time to drown out the noise. The music helps him drive, so it’s all good, and we get to listen to music almost nonstop throughout the film, which is surely not a bad thing, or …?

Among Doc’s thieves, whom Baby has to drive around, are Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Bats (Jamie Foxx), neither of whom respects Baby’s worldview. But then, neither does Doc. Baby should have run away a long time ago. So should I.

Here’s the thing:

  1. Baby Driver is full of brilliantly-conceived and brilliantly-filmed chase scenes of all kinds, but I don’t like chase scenes.
  2. Baby Driver is, as I said, full of music. I love music in films, but Edgar Wright and I clearly have very different tastes - I hardly heard a single song I liked, so for me the film was just full of loud background noise. 
  3. Baby Driver is full of stylish violence, often set to music, but I detest almost all stylish violence in films.
  4. Baby Driver is full of interesting characters (especially Joseph), some of whom get a decent smattering of development (not Joseph), and Baby is an intriguing and sympathetic protagonist, but most of the characters behave inconsistently, lack credibility or behave in ways that undermine whatever good things the film is trying to say (if it is trying to say any good things).
  5. Baby Driver’s last half hour was horrifically violent and beyond ludicrous, and the ending lacked any semblance of credibility.

Given the above five points (some of which are, admittedly, purely subjective), no amount of awesome filmmaking, stylish originality and good acting is going to make Baby Driver a film I could enjoy watching or would ever want to watch again. Like some of Tarantino’s films (to which Baby Driver no doubt owes a lot), this is not, in my ‘solitary’ opinion, the kind of film critics should be encouraging filmmakers to make or viewers to watch. 

Among the wonderful things film critics are saying about Baby Driver: “sweet and funny”, “outrageously enjoyable”, “a playful ode”, “a wildly successful romantic comedy”. When I think of films for which those words might be applicable, they could hardly be further removed from Baby Driver. Sorry, in my books, you can’t have a sweet and funny film full of brutal violence. But it’s hard to find a single critic who has a bad word to say about this film. 

At least one critic, however, is giving Baby Driver **+. My mug is down. 

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