I wasn’t planning on seeing this movie until it got such rave reviews from literally everyone. I did my research, skimmed a few reviews online, and then decided I’d give it a try. It was Friday night/date night, time for a movie, and I suggested we try it out. As we walked up to the counter and bought our tickets, even the cashier said she’d heard nothing but good about Baby Driver.
The first scene of the movie was undoubtedly my favorite. The lines and colors pop, the music is choreographed impeccably, and there’s one of the longest pan shots I’ve ever seen. It’s a cinematic joy ride from which you cannot look away. It’s enrapturing. You fall instantly in empathy with Baby, the quiet, introverted tinnitus-sufferer who has been forced into life as a heist driver to repay a debt to a rich scumbag who threatens bodily harm to Baby and his foster father if he tries to walk away.
Baby frequents a diner a la Tarantino where he meets the lady of the piece, a waitress without much to keep her tied down and who is happy to be swept into Baby’s world. It seems unrealistic for Deborah to go along without a fuss, but it reads like a medieval romance, and I liked this narrative. As the gang gets together to plan their next heist and Baby tries to escape, I couldn’t help but reminisce about Gone In 60 Seconds. In her New York Times review of the film, Manohla Dargis says these dramatic allusions throughout the film give the audience a “contact high,” and it’s true. The bits and pieces of homage don’t feel trite, they feel like happy rafts of nostalgia to which the audience gladly clings. Dargis points out that Director Edgar Wright is a perennial audience-pleaser, and perhaps that is why the ending of Baby Driver left me feeling so unsatisfied, like somewhere it took a wrong turn.
In what I can only guess was an attempt to flip all of those familiar, cuddly tropes on their heads, Baby Driver spends the third act shifting everyone out of character. The bad guy goes good. The semi-good guy goes totally bad. The hero stops hero-ing and starts killing people. I don’t want to give too many spoilers here, but poetic justice was not, in my opinion, well-served. There was no trying-to-be-merciful-but-villain-gets-killed-in-accident. There was no hero-gets-the-girl-and-drives-off-into-the-sunset. The ending jarred me so deeply that I felt as though everything I knew was a lie. I drove home from the movie with a newfound existential crisis. Thanks, Mr. Wright.
Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I expect the world to follow certain rules. I suppose that’s the same reason I get so irked by Game of Thrones. Life isn’t fair, and I go to the movies to forget about that, not to be reminded of it. For me, stories exist as an escape–as proof, in the words of Neil Gaiman, that dragons can be slain. I don’t think I’ll watch Baby Driver again, though I may have to buy the movie just so I can play the car scenes on repeat.