Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Directed by Edgar Wright
Written by Edgar Wright
Baby Driver is a slick, hip, and oozing with cool tunes film that starts off with its foot on the gas pedal, but unfortunately let’s off midway through to accompany a love story that at first may seem sweet and innocent, but upon further thinking becomes quite uncomfortable to think about. One director who also wrote this film and although some moments are neat, and slightly unexpected. It is not without foreshadow, typical story formulas, and missteps.
Here comes 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 gives drives the films action. Yet the music has a purpose for Baby and this is explained with flashbacks showing a car accident Baby experienced 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 take. During this scene Jon Bernthal really does a good job which later in the film the mantle gets taken up by Jamie Foxx’s character. 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 which bring a significant menace and film presence with his role. Bats and Baby are destined to butt heads and the script handles this very well. Now the second heist come with its hiccups and the team is entirely new folks which is a rule that Doc goes by to never use the same crew twice. So 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 less similarities, but okay I can let this one go for 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. Now Doc is reusing past team members going against his rule when he 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 is splendid. 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 car from some rebar wires hanging off a truck parked in front of their getaway car which was foreshadowed when they parked their car earlier. STOP. You just took away the best character of the film, and subbed it 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 George Lucas! Save that rant for another day. What should have happened is at the last second Bats twist and turns in his seat narrowly dodging the rebar and instead it goes through his passenger seat and impales Darling. You still get the Buddy loses his wife and wants revenge on Baby, and still 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 now that 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 as well 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.
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 still barely alive fired the shot to kill Bats. Then the final standoff between Baby and Buddy ends the same way as in the film. Film proceeds as normal from this point on. Now the film goes from good to great, and gets repeat viewings as a result.
Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.