Baby Driver is stupid. This wonderful statement of opinion comes to you from a guy who sat behind me during my screening of The Fate of the Furious. This guy was not impressed by the trailer for Baby Driver. This full grown man then proceeded to giggle for two hours straight, swooning over CGI cars and hootin’ for Vin Diesel’s candy ass. But Baby Driver, a high energy, practical stunt-filled car heist movie looked stupid. Different four-stroke engines for different folks, I guess.
But it’s not that easy. I am unable to fathom how a person could possibly be so excited for a Fast & Furious movie, but at the exact same time be so dismissive of Baby Driver. I want to be an empathetic person. I strive to see the world from the perspective of others. But I just can’t do it here. I’m not sure this guy was human.
Granted, Baby Driver was still just a trailer at this point. No one had seen the movie. The easy explanation is that some guy just didn’t like the particular cut of a trailer. Maybe he didn’t like a particular cast member. Maybe he didn’t like the song. Maybe the vibe was off.
But now that I’ve actually seen Baby Driver, the sad truth has surfaced. This guy will never like Baby Driver. The Baby Driver experienced in the trailer is the Baby Driver experienced in the movie, but for two hours. It never relents. It bursts with energy. It’s everything The Fate of Furious claimed to be, with a few exceptions.
Both Baby Driver and The Fate of the Furious are exhausting, but for very different reasons. Baby Driver is exhausting in the way that being strapped to the hood of a speeding race car is exhausting. When Baby Driver ends, your knuckles are white, your adrenaline is depleted and it’s time for a grand snooze.
The Fate of the Furious is also exhausting. But in the way that strobe lights are exhausting. It’s a movie without a purpose. It’s a never ending series of flashing of lights meant to confuse and disorient the audience. Blindly, they stumble out of the theater thinking they had a good time.
Baby Driver meanwhile is a perfectly crafted roller coaster. Each climb, each drop, each turn is expertly engineered to maximize the audience’s excitement. The movie seems to work against the laws of physics, keeping you at the edge of your seat. The Fate of the Furious is a crowded wave pool and you’re smack dab in the center without a flotation device.
But I guess the guy who sat behind me prefers action movies that consist purely of chaos.
Blue Lives DON’T Matter
The action in Baby Driver and The Fate of the Furious result in the death of police officers. While The Fate of the Furious doesn’t depict this in a graphic manner like Baby Driver, you’re lying to yourself if you think no officers died. Vin Diesel causes a World War Z horde of zombie cars plowing through New York City. The death toll was catastrophic.
The big difference here: Baby Driver has consequences. Baby Driver doesn’t try to convince you that the main character is always good. Baby Driver doesn’t sweep the death toll under the rug. Vin Diesel straight up murdered hundreds of people by going along with Cipher’s plan. Baby is also indirectly responsible for deaths. But the lessons learned are quite different. SPOILER ALERT: Baby Driver doesn’t end with a bullshit rooftop barbecue in the same city that suffered at the hand of the protagonist.
But I guess the guy who sat behind me prefers movies that celebrate egotistical sociopaths.
Baby Driver is a silly name for a movie. I guess the guy who sat behind me doesn’t like movies with silly names. A nice hypothesis. Unfortunately it doesn’t hold up to the fact that The Fate of the Furious is one of the dumbest movie titles in recent history.
Here’s where the movies are more closely aligned than I would like to admit. The Furious movies love to bludgeon the audience with its bastardized definition of family. I feel nothing for any of the characters. I like The Rock. He’s charismatic. But even he can’t pretend to be friends with Vin Diesel. And sadly my biggest complaint with Baby Driver is that the relationships between characters don’t always feel complete.
But good God, Baby Driver is no where near the level of sanctimonious baloney vomited in The Fate of the Furious.
While the relationship between Baby and Deborah feels like it skipped a few steps, the actors are good enough to display actual chemistry. They genuinely act like two people in love. So maybe I don’t get to see every step in their relationship. I can fill in the missing gaps. The same gap exists for Baby and Kevin Spacey’s character, but I fully believe a backstory exists.
But I guess the guy who sat behind me prefers movies where each character lives in a separate reality from every other character.
The guy who sat behind me must prefer car movies in which cars do not obey gravity like actual cars. Also, every car must be a CGI model. Also, every actor’s driving scenes must be filmed in front of a green screen. The Baby Driver trailer had far too many car stunts featuring actual cars for his taste. He would also hate how each actor reacts naturally to the movement of the vehicle they occupy.
Baby Driver is good. It’s really good. It’s well constructed. It’s well acted. It sounds great. It’s directed with purpose. It’s concisely written. It’s good. It’s everything The Fate of the Furious isn’t. And you may be thinking, “why are you even comparing Baby Driver and The Fate of the Furious? They’re different movies with different purposes”.
Eh, kinda. Truth be told, I was having trouble writing my review of Baby Driver. The toughest reviews for me to write are for movies I really like. Composing paragraphs that gush praise over a movie isn’t of particular interest to me. I prefer finding loose ends to blabber on about. What lessons can be learned from this?
There aren’t many things to fix in Baby Driver. The review was just going to be, “Baby Driver is great! I loved all the action! I cast was really good. The relationships between characters weren’t perfect but I still really liked them!” That’s a boring review.
Then I remembered the doofus who sat behind me during The Fate of the Furious. I remembered rolling my eyes each time he cheered for a returning cast member appearing on screen for the first time. I remember listening to him recap the exposition from previous installments with quips like, “oh, she’s from the other movie!”
That guy does not like good movies. Or at the very least, he struggles mightily to identify which movies are good based by their trailer.