A young driver gets himself in debt to a crimelord (Kevin Spacey – very good) and has to be the getaway man on various bank robberies. The driver has tinnitus, so always listens to music to drown out his ear-problem – meaning the audience watches the robberies and chase sequences set to ironically chosen tunes, and the proceedings have poetry and pop culture in equal doses. It’s fun and we get swept away by the artistry of it all – forgetting about all our moral objections to what’s going on. The film is very clever in pulling this off – and has a cracking first half as a consequence.
The driver (‘Baby’) then has to start contending with fairly unstable members of various ‘crews’ (e.g. Jamie Foxx) chosen by the crimelord. Baby’s new girlfriend (who works in the local diner) is unfortunately dragged into this world of double-cross and murder. These are the wages of Baby’s sins and transgressions.
The film’s plot-shape then becomes that cliched and moralistic tale of ‘you can’t escape the law’. If you’ve seen Carlitto’s Way, it’s the same vibe as that: ‘One last big job and I’ll be free of all this.’ Now, that plot-shape is classic to the Hollywood thriller genre, but it doesn’t quite resonate with a British audience in the same way – since we know criminals DO get away with it just as often as they don’t (e.g. The Great Train Robbery). The second half of Baby Driver, then, is all a bit too trite, predictable and lacking in artistry. The final fight scene against the baddy is pretty awful. The baddy comes back too many times. (NOT REALLY A SPOILER, COS THE FOLLOWING SCENE DOESN’T ADD THAT MUCH) Baby is at pains not to kill the baddie (absolutely not credible, cos the innocent girlfriend is about to be killed), so shoots the baddy in the leg, meaning chance and circumstance have to decide the baddy overbalances and falls to his death. It’s just silly, forced, directorially intrusive and out-of-synch with the first half of the film.
It’s a movie of two halves ultimately: one good and one bad. Is it worth seeing? Absolutely, but a tad disappointing (especially if you’ve read all the rave reviews in the press). It scores 7.5 out of 10 from me.