Vault Movie Review: "Baby Driver"
Baby (Ansel Elgort) managed to survive a deadly car crash when he was a child. The crash killed both of his parents, and left him with a hearing problem. He ended up finding comfort in music and has grown to become a truly incredible driver. He has mastered driving—the very thing that killed his parents—but he has found himself in bed with some dangerous people.
Baby got caught up with a dangerous man named Doc (Kevin Spacey), who organizes high profile robberies and has hired Baby as his getaway driver. Baby does not like the job, he knows he needs to get out, but Doc pays him really well and he is still on the man’s good side. However, when Baby meets Debora (Lily James) and the two hit it off, Baby knows he needs to get out of his current job and knows he needs to keep Debora a secret until then. If Doc finds out about her, he will certainly use her as leverage in an attempt to hold on to the greatest getaway driver he has ever had.
The Pros & Cons
The Premise (+5pts)
The Crew (+3pts)
Baby & Debora (+5pts)
Dumb Decisions (-3pts)
Pro: The Premise (+5pts)
This movie had a pretty simple premise, but I enjoyed it. It had a main character who was an incredible driver, and was reluctantly working as a getaway driver for a group of dangerous robbers. First there was Baby’s skill behind the wheel, which made him cool. Then there was his reluctance to continue working for Doc and his awareness that what they were doing was wrong and dangerous, which made it easy to get behind the character morally.
Then there were the robberies themselves, which provided a number of exciting action sequences and car chases. There was also the dangerous crime lord—Doc—who provided the story with danger and unpredictability. Finally, there was the sense of being trapped in this job and hiding something that would make Baby vulnerable to a dangerous man, which gave this movie suspense. The plot of this movie was certainly simple—a decent guy wound up working as a getaway driver and wants to “get out”—but it was an effective one nonetheless.
Con: Doc (-3pts)
Doc worked for this movie because he felt threatening, he felt powerful, and he felt unpredictable. Unfortunately, the character was also very one-dimensional. He was evil for the sake of being evil, which is always something I find boring in a primary antagonist. he was your stereotypical baddie, who had an insatiable appetite for money and power, even though he already had plenty of both. I honestly do not have much more to say about the character. He was a bad guy, and he was an uninteresting one. Kevin Spacey made him about as threatening as you would expect Kevin Spacey to make him, but that did not change the fact that he was a poorly developed and uninteresting primary antagonist.
Pro: The Crew (+3pts)
I expected tension from Baby not wanting to get caught by Doc. What I did not expect was the relationship between Baby and the other members of Doc’s crew. There was Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), and Griff (Jon Bernthal). Griff was the stereotypical bully-type character, who seemed to love getting his hands dirty. He liked to bully Baby, and that is where the unique characters of Buddy and Darling came in.
Both of these two characters were somewhat protective of Baby—at least when it came to Griff’s antics—but neither seemed to fully trust him and did not really care much about him. They all wanted him to keep driving, because it was good for business, and they were willing to do what ever it took to get him to stay—and would possibly even get revenge if Baby chose to quit. It was their livelihood at stake if Baby quit, so it was interesting to see how each handled the situation that they were in. Baby had his hands full when it came to having to deal with Doc, but having to also deal with the rest of Doc’s crew made the plot feel somewhat chaotic and made Baby’s chances feel very slim, which made the story more interesting.
Con: Predictable (-5pts)
One of the potential side effects of having a simple premise is that it can lead to having a simple and predictable plot. That was what happened with this movie, and it certainly was not helped by the fact that the primary antagonist was so one-dimensional. Right from the beginning of the movie—around when you meet Debora for the first time—you will see the writing on the wall regarding the rest of the story. You know what will be at stake for the rest of the movie, you will know the protagonist’s motivation and that he does not have much of a choice, and you will know the antagonist’s motivation and that he will do whatever it takes to keep his claws in Baby. You will pretty quickly know all the cards at the table, and will understand the players well enough to know how they will play those cards. Was it a bad story? No, but it was really easy to see where it was going and the filmmakers did not really throw in any surprises.
Pro: Baby & Debora (+5pts)
When Debora was initially introduced in this story, I initially thought that the relationship between her and Baby would feel forced and boring. Fortunately, I could not have been more wrong. I actually ended up liking their romance quite a bit. The characters and their relationship were the huge driving factor in this story, but I also just really liked Lily James and Ansel Elgort's chemistry with one another.
The two characters made sense together, which made it feel like a really natural romance on screen. It also was not one of those romance storylines where one character unnecessarily kept things from the other. They were open with one another about what they wanted, and Baby was open with Debora about the situation he was in. It was refreshing to see that the characters were written well—without adding unnecessary drama—and I liked that their relationship felt like it was them against the world. This story needed you to care about these two characters, and it needed you to want them to be together. In that respect, I thought that this relationship was definitely a success.
Con: Dumb Decisions (-3pts)
This was one of those movies where the filmmakers relied on certain characters making dumb decisions in order to move the plot forward. I always think this is really lazy filmmaking, as it sacrifices character integrity. In other words, I always think it is a bad idea to sacrifice staying true to your characters, just to move a plot in a desired direction. There are always ways around doing this, which means that doing this is just lazy writing. I do not want to give anything away, as most of the bad decisions were made by the primary antagonist, so could get into spoiler territory. Just know that Doc made some terrible decisions—ones that no logical person such as himself would have made—all just to move the story in the writers' desired direction. It did not drastically impact my enjoyment of the movie, but it was a noticeable plot device and seemed out of character for someone like Doc.
Grade: C+ (77pts)
This movie was alright, but I thought could have been a lot better than it was. The premise was simple, but it was effective. It was a story about a reluctant protagonist, who was a great driver, but found himself working for some bad people and wanted to get out. He wanted to get out so that he could run away with a girl, but knew that the people he worked for could not find out about her or they would use her against him.
Again, the plot was pretty simple, but it was effective enough, and made for a number of entertaining action sequences and car chases. Unfortunately, its simplicity—along with its severely one-dimensional antagonist—made the plot pretty predictable. However, in order for this story to work for you, you need to buy into the romance between Baby and Debora. I thought that the characters were written in a way that made their relationship feel very natural, and the chemistry between Lily James and Ansel Elgort certainly helped. The movie had its strengths, but it also had its share of weaknesses, which together made for a pretty average movie.