WRITING MOVIE WRONGS BY: JIM WEST (www.moviewrongs.com)
Baby Driver is a slick, hip film. Oozing with cool tunes it starts off with its foot on the gas pedal but unfortunately, eases off midway through. It does so to allow for a love story which, at first, may seem sweet and innocent, but upon further deliberation becomes quite uncomfortable to think about. Although some moments are neat, if slightly unexpected, it’s not without foreshadow, typical story formulas and missteps.
Here come the spoilers!
The film opens with a heist and Baby is introduced as the wheel man for a group running a bank heist with John Hamm aka ‘Buddy’, his wife ‘Darling’ and (should’ve had more screen time), Jon Bernthal. Music takes the forefront that really drives the film’s action. The music has a purpose for Baby which is explained with flashbacks showing a car accident in which his parents died and left him with severe tinnitus. So to drown out the ringing in his ears he is almost always listening to music. This is not a big deal as the film’s soundtrack is perhaps the best thing about the film. The first heist goes well and the team regroups with the ringleader Kevin Spacey, ‘Doc’, who divides up everyone’s take. During this scene Jon Bernthal really does a good job but the mantle gets transferred to Jamie Foxx’s character later in the film. Doc walks with Baby out to his car and it is revealed he owes Spacey a debt which is one job away from being paid off. So far so good. We have the setup, the essential one last job cliché and all should be well.
It doesn’t take long for Spacey to call Baby for the last job and we get introduced to Jamie Foxx’s ‘Bats’ character. Bats brings a significant menace and film presence with his character. Bats and Baby are destined to butt heads and the script handles this very well. The second heist comes with its hiccups. Doc goes by the rule to never use the same crew twice so the team is made up of entirely new members. With this, we get some throwaway performances from Flea and Lanny Joon. No real issue here yet. Getting to it soon.
The heist wraps up and Doc and Baby note they are square. Baby moves on to making a romantic connection with a waitress named Debora who works at the same diner his mother used to work for. Additionally she slightly resembles his mother and she even sings like his mother did. Sort of creepy and Doctor Freud would approve, but I hope I am not the only one who felt the mom and waitress similarities wasn’t intentional. Personally I would have written fewer similarities, but I can let this one go as there is a bigger issue with the story as it follows the one last job cliché.
Just when Baby thinks he has moved on from a life of crime, Doc shows up to tell him he has one last job. Baby wants to refuse, but he knows and respects the power Doc has and reluctantly agrees. Of course Baby intends to run away, but we get some good jump scares from Bats and Buddy on the eve of the heist. Doc is now reusing past team members, going against his rule, and brings Buddy and Darling along with Bats for this final job to rob cases of blank money orders from a Post Office. Now the surprises and tensions the director builds are splendid and the film hits all the right notes. Yet the final act sees Baby drive the car forward, impaling and killing a threatening Bats in his seat in the getaway car. STOP. You just took away the best character in the film! We’re now left with a slightly inferior level of madness with Buddy and Darling. This to me was like watching Darth Maul (the best part of that film) get ridiculously killed in ‘The Phantom Menace’ climax when he had ‘the high ground’. I mean, high ground doesn’t get much higher than George Lucas! But I’ll save that rant for another day! What should have happened is, at the last second, Bats twists and turns in his seat narrowly dodging death. Instead, the rebar goes through his passenger seat and impales Darling. You still get Buddy losing his wife and wanting revenge on Baby, and also keep Bats in play for the rest of the film.
Now you have an epic three way Mexican standoff with two people coming after Baby and both trying to ensure each one is the one who gets to kill Baby. Bats never liked Baby, but since Baby butted heads with him earlier in the diner and now with Baby’s attempt to kill him, he will not stop until he kills Baby. Buddy can continue as he does in the film also trying to chase down Baby to avenge his wife. This creates a higher stakes dynamic and significantly raises the bar for Baby to stay one step ahead of them both.
The film can end in the parking garage as it did, but with all three duking it out with cars and guns. Bats shoots Buddy to prevent him from being the one who kills Baby; and just when Bats is about to kill Baby, his head explodes all over Baby’s face. Buddy, barely alive, fires the shot to kill Bats. The final standoff between Baby and Buddy should end the same way as in the film with the movie continuing as normal from this point on. Now the film goes from good to great and gets repeat viewings as a result.
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