Film Review: Baby Driver

Note: spoilers or whatever.

Inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s loving tweet and the suggestion and company of my boyfriend and his friend, I saw Baby Driver last week.

Prior to seeing the film, I hadn’t really heard much about Edgar Wright’s music-themed car chase movie. I’m familiar with other movies by the same director — like Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World — but as for Baby Driver, I was basically a clean slate.

Armed with only a quick, ten-second blurb of the movie’s plot, I sat in a dimly lit theater off Hawthorne, sipping a slightly-too-bitter-but-maybe-just-bitter-enough-so-I-won’t-drink-it-too-quickly beer, as I waited for the film to start.

As it began, I found myself smiling unexpectedly; the opening scene, combined with the visual representation of the lyrics to the opening song was enjoyable and clever. The filmmakers did a really excellent job integrating music, plot, and action.

The main character, Miles (aka Baby), has trauma-induced tinnitus from a car accident that killed his parents and uses music as a way to drown out the ringing in his ears and stay focused as a getaway driver. The film’s soundtrack is catchy and upbeat and sets the mood for what’s happening on screen: usually lots and lots of fast driving.

It becomes apparent we’re hearing music from Baby’s perspective. Music is often played softly in the background and can change suddenly whenever Baby is using his iPod. In one scene, Baby’s headphones are ripped from his ears, and the music suddenly stops. The soundtrack, combined with the high-budget action sequences, make for a really entertaining movie.

However, while the musical component of Baby Driver felt seamless, and the movie was overall quite fun to watch (Baby’s foster dad was adorable and definitely my favorite part of the movie), the plot, especially the romance between Baby and Debora, felt tired and unnecessary.

As our friend would suggest, as we were getting a few more beers after the screening, it felt like a lot of the characters had the potential for being really awesome leading into the climax, but nothing ever happened to them.

Debora, the waitress who forms a relationship with Baby, is spunky and kind, but without an arc of her own, quickly becomes a trope used to motivate Baby. She loses her agency as a character, and turns into a doting romantic interest that has no real role to play during the rest of the movie, expect as someone Baby has to protect.

As the film is ending, and Baby is sitting in jail, having been sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the film’s multiple heists, he receives a postcard from Debora, letting him know that she will be waiting for him when he gets out. But why would she even do that?

Like seriously, their relationship only became romantic during the events of the movie, which is like a few days, a few weeks? These people barely know each other, and Debora is waiting for this guy like it’s no big deal. As the credits began to roll, and I realized, yes, that’s how they’re going to end it, I kept frowning, because I knew she could have done way better than that.

Despite the problematic romance, and the confusing arcs of some of the other characters (like Darling just suddenly dying??), this movie is still, at its heart, an action movie. It’s supposed to be fun, and it definitely accomplished that. It has a soundtrack that is definitely going to be popular, like the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, and I applaud it for that.

However, Baby Driver was so close to being a really good movie, not just a fun one, but bad character design and outdated romantic stereotypes ultimately prevented it from being so.

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