Most of Edgar Wright‘s Baby Driver (TriStar, 6.28) is inspired — one of the most strikingly conceived, purely enjoyable fast-car crime flicks I’ve ever seen. With Ansel Elgort as a Ryan Gosling-level getaway driver who needs the right kind of song playing in his ear buds in order to make it all come together, Baby Driver is essentially a kind of action musical — cray-cray car chases and ferocious gunplay synchronized with the sounds and vice versa. To some extent it reminded me of Drive, and at times of Thief, Gone In Sixty Seconds, Bullitt….that line of country.
The four or five car chases in the film are exhilarating nutso stuff, but at the same time the action is undisciplined and show-offy and actually quite mad — Wright going for the gusto without regard to probability or (that horrid word) reality, but at the same time delivering the best squealing-rubber thrills since Gosling and Nicholas Winding Refn pooled forces, and absolutely leaving the bullshit fantasy realm of the Furious franchise in the dust.
But then Wright decides to send Baby Driver flying off the freeway around…oh, the 90-minute mark. And the last 15 or so minutes are flat-out insane and then infuriating. I was sitting there with my face contorted as I silently screamed, “What the fuck are you doing?…you fucking asshole! You really had something going there, but now you’re ruining the movie…you’re making it into some kind of bullshit Vin Diesel cum milkshake with a pop-fantasy ending made of dingleberries and drooling saliva. Why? Do you have a creative death wish?”
HE to director friend this morning: “I just saw Baby Driver last night….a wowser, near-great action musical for the first 80% or 85% followed by a ridiculously absurd, overly violent, catastrophically stupid finale that all but destroys the current and the vibe. A friend said ‘the wheels come off at the end‘ but they come off because Wright got under the car and loosened the lug nuts. Rarely have I seen a popcorn film as inspired and well-made as Baby Driver just blow itself up and shatter into pieces at the very end…a shame and a tragedy.”
I am nonetheless recommending Baby Driver for those first 90 or so minutes. But at the same time I’m telling you that any critic who’s written a gushing pass without mentioning that it destroys itself over the last 15 minutes or so…anyone who ignores this DEAD OBVIOUS FACT is a lying, jizz-whizzing whore who can never be fully trusted ever again.
Be mindful of this. Read through the Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes responses and do the math. Those who’ve said “yes but with a problematic ending” are okay — those who’ve said “this is greatest delivery device for car-chase orgasms in the history of movies” without mentioning the finale are corrupt fanboy liars.
Even with my anger at the film, ten minutes after the Arclight screening ended I was asking about the soundtrack album at Amoeba. It has about 30 tracks, give or take. It is arguably one of the finest pop-song soundtracks since Wes Anderson‘s Rushmore, which used 25 tracks.
Before it self-destructs, Baby Driver is Wright’s best film ever. But add the shitty ending and it’s highly compromised.
I’ve never liked Wright, not really. To me he’s a sloppy geekboy who’s always looking for cheap highs, pop fizz and low-rent thrills. He’s the kind of filmmaker who wants to make Drew McWeeny and Harry Knowles cream in their pants.
I was half a fan of Shaun of the Dead, and less of an admirer of Hot Fuzz. Then along came Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and I said to myself, “Okay, this settles it — Wright is bad news, the fucking enemy.” Then came the not-too-bad World’s End. Then Wright bailed on Ant-Man…thank God as he might have ruined it! And now this.
Elgort, who resembles the young Marlon Brando of the mid ’40s, is the anchor and owner of Baby Driver. I just wish his character hadn’t literally been named “Baby…Bee-Ay-Bee-Why.” Lily James is almost terrific as a heart-of-gold manic pixie waitress (i.e., completely unbelievable) whom Baby falls for early on. The noirishly cool baddies are played with great flair by Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm (best thing he’s done since Mad Men), Jamie Foxx (although a little too hostile and actor-crazy), Jon Bernthal and Eia González. The movie is basically bullshit, but it’s done with pizazz and aplomb. I was with it up to that point.