#243 – Baby Driver (2017)

From 243,710 votes, Baby Driver has a 7.7/10 rating from the users of IMDb, a number that was higher prior to the Kevin Spacey revelations of late 2017.

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.
This is a movie I didn’t really think I’d end up watching. The revelations and controversy of late-2017 left a bad taste in my mouth and I simply didn’t want to watch (read: enjoy) a movie where Kevin Spacey was a main character. A discussion on New Year’s Eve prompted me to watch it anyway and here we are. I genuinely did enjoy the movie, and this has left me with mixed thoughts, which I’ll try to expand upon later, for anyone who thinks them worth reading.
Baby Driver is a cool movie, in multiple senses. Firstly it looks cool. In some ways, hear me out, it feels like it’s from a different time. Even though it’s anchored firmly in the present with smartphones and souped up cars, there are elements of the 80s in the many scenes at the classic American diner, and the focus on cassette tapes, two quintessentially retro and again, cool things. Secondly, this movie sounds cool. There’s a great deal of emphasis put on the soundtrack and the main character’s compulsive need for cool music in his life. It’s right up there with San Junipero in my ‘list of things I’d watch again just to listen to’.
Ansel Elgort;Jon Hamm;Jamie Foxx;Eiza Gonzalez
Plot-wise, it’s okay. Everything is a bit predictable and if you can suspend your disbelief for a while (WHY would she GIVE UP HER LIFE to run away with an ALMOST STRANGER?!) it’s a pretty good romp that is maybe just a tiny bit too long. The cast is pretty fab, with everyone totally exuding a sense of cool, except maybe Spacey who screams seedy to me. But this may be a result of, you know, the whole thing. His scenes are uncomfortable and threatening – and luckily for this movie, they work.
A running theme in the movie is hearing. Baby’s foster father is deaf, Baby is implied to suffer from tinnitus which is why he compulsively listens to music all the time, Baby carries around a tape recorder all the time to be able to hear conversations once-over (and create remixes of them, which is normal hobby, I’m sure). At the end of the film, Jon Hamm (be still my beating heart) makes an overly dramatic evil move and tries to deafen Baby by firing a gun right next to his ear, snarling something to the effect of “I’m gonna take away what’s most important to you”. It’s very heavy handed but I suppose it’s the moment that anyone who was only half-watching the film would get that lightbulb moment of realising that Baby really likes his hearing. It gave us adorable scenes between Baby and his foster dad, so I liked it.
All in all, I enjoyed the movie. Wouldn’t watch it again, but I would subscribe to a spotify playlist of the soundtrack.
On ‘Enjoying the Art but not the Artist’
This was a film I felt intensely conflicted about watching, and possibly enjoying, because there is a lot of discourse these days regarding the behaviour of celebrities, the so-called ‘cancellation’ of celebrities, and the willingness to consume media that was previously acclaimed and enjoyed before the celebrities involved in the making of it were cancelled. Kevin Spacey being an absolute degenerate doesn’t retroactively make Baby Driver less critically acclaimed or a worse movie. It can, and in my case did, mar the scenes that featured Kevin Spacey. This was a lot of them.
This isn’t to say his acting is negatively impacted by the revelations or that it’s in bad taste to appreciate how expertly he’s able to pull off a real villainous character who threatens and coerces a young man into committing crimes. It’s just that whenever he was on screen, I was taken out of the movie and forced to ask myself ‘can I morally and ethically consume this media and his talents?’. Is endorsing the artistry of a person endorsing the person themselves? Movies like this require a suspension of disbelief, and it’s difficult to enjoy high-octane car chases and thrilling fight scenes when you’re being distracted by thoughts of the real-world actions of a person acting in the film. In that way, the film was ruined for me.
In the end, after a lot of humming and ahhing I decided to press on, watch the movie and just get on with life. Watching more, better movies, because that’s what I enjoy. And if I enjoyed this movie, and I did, then it doesn’t mean I’m endorsing the actions of a sexual predator. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that these moral dilemmas are relative, that some people will struggle with these questions, like I have, and some people won’t think twice. I think it’s a very personal thing, choosing what media to consume and what questions you are to ask yourself before deciding where the line is, and the seemingly totally insignificant question “should I watch this film?” has led to a bit of a personal discovery for me.

2 thoughts on “#243 – Baby Driver (2017)

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