Film / Baby Driver

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"The song's over, but you still have to face the music."
Buddy

Baby Driver is a 2017 film written and directed by Edgar Wright.

Unlike what the title and the director's previous body of work (such as the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy) might suggest, this is not a tightly tuned comedy. Rather, it is an action crime drama (though Wright's Signature Style of comedy still leaks through).

Ansel Elgort plays Baby, a young getaway driver with a tragic past working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey) and his gang of bank robbers. When Baby meets and falls in love with an innocent waitress (Lily James), he finally has a reason to leave the criminal world.

But, as with these sorts of movies, getting out is going to take a lot more than just a fast car.

Has an All-Star Cast, including Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Jon Hamm, and Flea.

Previews: Official Trailer.

Baby Driver contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Baby's father is an unloving, boozing, violent asshole who beats his wife and is responsible for her (and his own) death. Needless to say, Baby does not miss him.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Bats is speechifying to the rest of the crew about how they don't take crime seriously, he says Buddy and Darling rob to support a drug habit while he "does drugs to support a robbery habit." Buddy chuckles and says that was clever.
  • Advertised Extra: Jon Bernthal's Griff appears in most of the advertising and has his own poster, only to appear for all of the opening heist before never being seen again.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Doc. Evil in that he is a crime lord who deals in robbing banks and repeatedly blackmails Baby into being his escape driver, even after Baby has fully paid him back for the money he lost him years ago. Affable in that even after Baby deliberately screws up the job, causing Bats and Darling to die, and bringing the police down on their heads, Doc gives Baby his tape and the bank notes and tries to hold off the people coming for them so Baby and Debora can escape. And he has a serious soft spot for his nephew.
    • Buddy is nothing but cordial with Baby, standing up for him when Griff harasses him at the start and bonding with him over music. He also clearly loves Darling, his wife. He even doesn't hold Baby trying to run away the night before a job against him, telling him he'd prefer it if Baby just left than go into a job half assing it. However, Buddy is an unrepentant bank robber. And when Baby's actions get Darling killed by the police, Buddy will stop at nothing to kill Baby.
  • Asian Airhead: JD. When told to get Michael Myers masks, he gets masks of comedian Mike Myers instead. When he accidentally leaves his shotgun behind during a heist, Doc kills him for his stupidity.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Baby listens to music to drown out the tinnitus caused by a childhood accident, which gives him intense focus needed to be a great driver. He speaks very little, and when he does speak, he often parrots things he's heard before, whether they be lines from movies, song lyrics, or things he's heard his associates say. He's also able to memorize fairly long and detailed plans and repeat them word-for-word after reading the lips of the speaker only once.
  • Armed Blag: The second robbery involves heisting an armoured car that is delivering cash to a bank. It does not go as smoothly as the first robbery.
  • Artistic License – Biology: While tinnitus is still not fully understood by medical professionals, hence no standardized cure nor remedy for it, listening to music constantly to drown it out is usually not recommended.
  • Ax-Crazy: Bats declares himself to be the crew member with the "mental problems."
  • Bad Boss: Doc, as played by renowned Bad Boss character actor, Kevin Spacey. He threatens to break Baby's legs and kill everyone he loves if Baby ever tells him 'No'. Averted in the ending where he sacrifices his life to save Baby and Debora first from three corrupt cops and then Buddy.
  • Badass Bystander: "Soldier Boy," the veteran who intervenes during the money truck heist who is almost as much a Badass Driver as Baby and pulls out a sidearm and then a sub-machine gun firing away at the getaway car, being more of a genuine threat to the crew than any police officer.
  • Badass Driver: The entire movie hinges on Baby being an extremely talented getaway driver.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Baby gets arrested but surrenders, and gets a parole sentence of five years in prison. But Debora waits for him.
  • Black Dude Dies First: All of the non-white members of the crew are killed off first (assuming Griff was not Killed Offscreen). First, JD (Asian) is killed after botching the robbery, then Bats (Black) is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice, and then Darling (Latina) is killed in a shoot-out with the police. Only after all the non-white crew members die do Doc and Buddy (White) die.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: During a shootout, Baby listens to "Tequila". While Bats knows this, he has no way of hearing the music coming through Baby's earbuds and playing non-diegetically over the scene, yet still says "tequila" in sync with the end of the song. Baby even turns to him shocked at his timing.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Baby doesn't do that much talking around the rest of the robbers and would rather listen to his music most of the time, but he's an excellent getaway driver who can memorize the plans just by reading lips.
  • The Butcher: The Butcher, of course. He's an arms dealer who uses pork products as code names for his weapons.
  • The Cameo: Of all people, Paul Williams as the Butcher.
  • Call-Back: Baby listens to “Easy” by The Commodores when he has to dispose of JD’s body and the car it was in. It’s later revealed that this is the song Baby’s mother sings on his cassette song (and when his mother’s version is played, it picks up where the earlier Commodore version left off). Apparently, Baby listens to “Easy” to console himself when he is sad.
  • Car Fu: Baby, when he isn't trying to get away, is a master of this.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Baby's hobby of recording other people's conversations to sample them in his songs comes back to bite him when Bats and Buddy find his tape recorder and suspect him of gathering evidence as a police snitch.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The camera lingers on “Soldier Boy” before the truck robbery. Then, when the crew tries to get away, he shows himself to be a Vigilante Man.
  • Color Motif: Red is the dominant color when things are going Baby's way (i.e. his red Subaru in the opening robbery, the driving gloves, the sign for Bo's Diner, his pizza delivery car and uniform), and blue when they aren't (i.e. the car Baby uses for the second botched robbery, the siren lights from the police car Buddy steals).
  • Contrived Coincidence: Immediately after Debora says they need a car, a shiny red car appears for them to carjack.
  • Cool Car: Baby's red Subaru Impreza WRX.
  • Damsel in Distress: Invoked. Darling's role in one of the jobs is to act as a fake hostage.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Baby and his parents were in an accident when he was a child. He survived. His parents didn't. He listens to music to drown out the memories and the permanent hum in his ears.
  • Death Glare: Considering who we're dealing with in this film, pretty much the default facial expression whenever no one is cracking jokes.
  • Determinator: In a later diner scene, after Bats gives Buddy and Darling a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Darling launches into a speech about how even though Buddy seems like a nice guy, "Once he sees red, you only see black". Bats dismisses it as bluffing and never gets to see this in action himself, but once Darling gets killed in the fallout of the failed heist sabotaged by Baby, Buddy goes absolutely ballistic, killing multiple cops in cold blood and enduring tons of damage just to have his revenge on Baby.
  • Diegetic Switch: The music Baby listens to, which leads to some stylish Mickey Mousing.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Two of them; either Bats or Doc clearly seem like they are going to be Baby's main problem. Bats is a massive psychopath who threatens everyone Baby loves and has no issues with killing anyone who gets in his way during a job, while Doc has no problems threatening Baby's loved ones to get his way. However, Bats is the first one to die in the final heist as Baby deliberately impales him on bundled rebar sticking out of the back of a truck, and Doc dies in a Heroic Sacrifice defending Baby from the cops. It's Buddy who turns out to be the real threat after his wife Darling gets killed by the cops during the fallout of the failed heist.
  • Disney Villain Death: Buddy finally dies when he falls several floors in a parking garage onto a burning car... which then explodes.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Not a major point, but Doc's inside men on two heists are people with "nasal problems," implying cocaine addictions.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Baby saves Debora and ultimately drives off into the sunset with her— albeit he has to kill two of his criminal associates, lose some of his hearing, and serve 5 years of a 25-year prison sentence to do it.
  • Enfant Terrible
    • Doc’s nephew, Sam, may well be a sociopath.
    • The trope name is also seen on one of Baby's tapes, implying that he's been referred to as such before.
  • Exact Words:
    • Doc wanted Bats' group to wear Michael Myers Halloween masks. JD instead gets Mike Myers Halloween masks.
    • When plotting the final heist, Doc mentions to Baby that he never works with the same group twice. He is however open to working with the same people more than once, as Buddy, Darling and Bats all take part in the post office robbery.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Throughout the film, Buddy maintains his slicked-back undercut without a single strand out of place, but as soon as his hair gets messed up, he's gone off the deep end.
  • Expy: Buddy is one for Rafe Adler, the main antagonist from Uncharted 4. Both are seemingly level-headed and charming criminals, but their facades are soon dropped near the conclusion of both their stories to reveal a violent, psychotic side that was always boiling underneath. Both characters even sport the same hairstyle, with both becoming unkempt and draping down near the conclusion.
  • Face/Heel Double-Turn: Doc is set up to be the film's antagonist, strongly hinting that he will do nasty things to Baby and Debora if they don't go along with him. By contrast, Buddy appears to be the decent member of the team, sharing a couple Pet the Dog moments with Baby. But when Darling is killed, Buddy becomes the true antagonist, hunting Baby and Debora down. Doc ends up helping them and going down in a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • First Name Ultimatum: Or Real First Name Basis in this case. When Doc considers shutting down the operation on the post office and Bats challenges him, Doc angrily refers to him by his real first name, Leon.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The channel surfing early in the film factors into some of Baby's dialogue later on. Particularly when he recites a line from Monsters, Inc. to Doc, who notices it.
      Doc: Don’t feed me any more lines from Monsters, Inc. It pisses me off!
    • In the same channel surfing sequence, there is footage of a matador, with the voice over talking about how the matador has to demount and take to being chased on foot. This can be seen as foreshadowing for the final act of the movie, in which Baby takes off out of his car and is chased on foot by the police. This also corresponds to Buddy's Villainous Breakdown in the final act, as Darling describes Buddy as unstoppable when he sees red, just like a bull. The fact that he is bathed red in the car's interior during the climax further hammers this point home.
    • Darling's speech about how you don't want to piss off Buddy (who's very nice, all things considered) rings true after the cops kill her thanks to Baby's stunt. He blames Baby, and spends the rest of the movie shooting his way through cops (they're on to Buddy from the heist) to come after him.
    • The post office cashier quotes Dolly Parton to Baby: "If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with a little rain." In the final scene there's a rainbow in the background when he gets out of prison.
    • When Bats starts a shootout with Butch's connected men (who happen to be cops), Darling is grazed by a bullet. She dies of gunfire via police in the botched job.
    • Early in the movie, Bats condemns Baby's Lighter and Softer approach to life, declaring, "In this world, the day you catch feelings is the day you catch a bullet." This foreshadows the fates of a number of characters: Doc, who dies trying to protect Baby; Buddy, who dies trying to enact a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for Darling; and Bats himself, who condemns himself by murdering an innocent in front of Baby.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Buddy's backstory; he was fired from his job as a stockbroker in Wall Street, and turned to a life of crime.
  • Genre Buster: A musical romantic action heist movie mainly focusing on the getaway driving aspect of a bank robbery.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: After Bats needlessly kills a security guard right in front of him, Baby decides he's had enough and purposely wrecks the car so a bundle of rebar gets rammed through Bats's chest.
  • Indentured Servitude: Baby's relationship with Doc is less legal than this and more severe than Work Off the Debt. Some years before the events of the film, Baby stole a car belonging to Doc that contained an apparently substantial amount of something valuable, and destroyed the goods during his joyride. Doc, impressed with Baby's skill behind the wheel, chose to employ Baby as his permanent getaway driver and gives Baby only a meager percentage of his otherwise full cut of any given heist's loot, keeping the majority as an installment on Baby's debt.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Every character who does anything untoward to another person gets what's coming to them... except for Eddie No-Nose. After his split the loot scene, he's never seen or heard from again. Possibly averted as Bats mentioned nobody who worked with him survived so it's possible he killed Eddie off-screen.
    • Griff also gets away scot free from being an asshole to Baby at the beginning of the movie. We never see him again after he gets off the elevator after the heist. Also possibly averted since he mentions if they don't see him again it means he's dead.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Baby himself doesn't get away with committing and being accessory to any number of crimes, up to and including murder... Although he does get parole after five years of a twenty-five-year sentence.
  • Killed Offscreen: The possible fate of Griff.
    If you don't see me again, it's because I'm dead.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A combined example of good and bad karma. So, Baby gets arrested at the end of the film, all of the crimes he committed coming back to haunt him. However, all the people he had been kind to over the film, including the lady he apologized to for stealing her car and the bank teller he warned not to go into the bank, all testify that he seems to be a good person. Added altogether, Baby gets sentence to 25 years in jail, but is paroled after only serving five.
  • May–December Romance: The middle-aged Buddy is in a "scandalous" relationship with the youthful Darling.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The crew pseudonyms all fit their personalities: Doc is the mastermind, Bats is Ax-Crazy, Buddy and Darling are Affably Evil, and Baby is by far the youngest of the group.
    • Fitting for a driver like himself, Baby's real name is revealed at the end to be Miles.
    • In a blink and you miss it moment, Buddy's real name is revealed via news report to be Jason van Horn. Not only is there an obvious pun in the name "van Horn", but Jason is both a Call-Back to the Halloween mask gag and a reference to how, like the killer himself, he has a bad habit of not staying dead.
  • Mickey Mousing: In spades. Every single scene in the film with music — nearly the entirety of the film — features action that happens in exact rhythm to the music playing; from counting money, to firing bullets, to windshield wipers and police sirens. Even gestures made during a conversation will line up with the beat. It gets to the point where when something actually isn't on beat with the song (i.e. during Baby's botched robbery with Eddie, JD, and Bats), things are going wrong.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers emphasize Doc, Bats and even Griff as the film's main antagonists but the film's most notable threat comes from Buddy.
  • Nice Guy: Baby himself is a good kid who happens to be in a bad line of work.
  • Nice to the Waiter: When scouting the post-office for the robbery the next day, Baby worriedly asks if the pleasant, middle-aged clerk will be there that day. During the robbery, he manages to find her before she enters the building and silently warns her to turn around, which she does. She later shows up unharmed as a positive Character Witness when he's arrested, and helps contribute to his lighter sentence.
  • Noodle Incident: We never find out what exactly was in the trunk of the car that Baby stole from Doc that led to Baby becoming Doc's driver, other than it was seemingly worth at least tens of millions of dollars.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: After the failed heist, Buddy shows up no worse for wear waiting for Baby at Debora's diner after being last seen at a police standoff that claimed Darling's life. When the police arrive and things go awry there, he shows up later again at Doc's garage, having hijacked a police vehicle.
  • Oh, Crap!: This is basically Bat's reaction during the second heist, when Baby runs into a pick-up truck covered in pro-gun/veteran decals. He shouts "We got a hero!" when the other driver reaches for his MP5 machine pistol.
  • One Last Job: Baby tries to invoke this. Doc reminds him, "One more job and we're straight", implying that there's more to be done after Doc is compensated.
  • The Oner: The opening credits, in which Baby walks (and dances) from Doc's office to a coffee shop and back, is set to the entirety of "Harlem Shuffle" by Bob & Earl.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Debora, the Love Interest, and Joseph, Baby's deaf foster father, are basically the only characters in the whole film who actually go by their given names; all the criminals refer to themselves by aliases. A few names get dropped here and there over the course of the film (Bats is Leon and Baby is Miles, amongst others).
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Bats calls Baby out for not even flinching at people being shot in front of him, but hesitates with his full being at the idea of going to Bo's Diner, where Debora is.
  • Outlaw Couple: Buddy and Darling. And, very very briefly, Baby and Debora.
  • Painting the Medium: Whenever one of Baby's earbuds is taken out, the music gets relegated to only one speaker to give the viewer the same sensation. Likewise, in the absence of music, we hear a high-pitched whine that represents the ear-ringing of Baby's tinnitus.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Baby's otherwise abusive Jerkass of a father is shown grinning broadly in a flashback when young Baby receives an iPod for his birthday.
    • Doc returns the cassette of Baby's mother upon seeing his relationship with Debora and goes out in a guns-blazing Heroic Sacrifice to protect them from the Butcher's henchmen.
  • Photographic Memory: When Baby is accused of listening to his music and not following along with the plan that Doc is laying out, he repeats it verbatim, with the same vocal inflections that Doc used.
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure:
    Eddie No-Nose: Doc said Michael Myers!
    JD: This is Mike Myers!
    Bats: It should be the Halloween mask!
    JD: This is a Halloween mask!
    Bats: No, the killer dude from Halloween!
    JD: Oh, you mean Jason...
    Bats: No!
  • Punch Clock Villain: Baby.
  • Pun: When Eddie No-Nose is asked how he lost his nose, Eddie's reply is that asking is on the list of "No-Nose's No-Noes."
  • Rasputinian Death: Doc, who takes multiple shots from the crooked cops, including a Last Breath Bullet through the chest, then is run down in a police cruiser by Buddy, who, finally, backs the cruiser up over Doc's head just to be sure.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Baby spends the entire time during operations not wearing anything to properly conceal his face. So, it's no wonder why he's arrested in the end.
    • Baby and Debora make their escape and go on the run, only to find out you can't outrun the radio, and a law enforcement blockade is ready and waiting for them.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The ultimate fate of Doc, who is shot several times by the Butcher's vengeful henchmen and then run down by Buddy while trying to help Baby and Debora escape.
  • Refuge in Audacity: When confronting Baby about him sneaking off at 2 AM, and finding his tape recorder containing records of their criminal conversations, Baby admits, honestly, that he remixes the conversations into music. Bats points out that this is a really fucking stupid excuse, and Buddy goes further, saying the excuse is so fucking stupid, the cops would never think to come up with it.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Doc does not take Baby's desire to quit the getaway driving business lightly.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Played with. Buddy seems to suggest that he is going to kill Debora in retaliation for Baby sabotaging the post office robbery, resulting in Darling’s death, but he never explicitly threatens her. When Buddy does finally tell Baby that he will take him from what he most loves, he then fires shots near Baby’s ears, further damaging Baby’s hearing. This seems to take away Baby’s ability to hear, robbing him of what he most loves: listening to music.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Baby tries go straight by driving for GoodFellas pizza.
    • In the laundromat, a shot of a washing machine fades into a record resembles HAL 9000
    • The post office teller says she is working "9 to 5 like Dolly."
    • The chase in the parking garage is similar to the one in The Terminator. Buddy is even more determined to kill Debora than he is Baby.
    • Baby's usual threads (long-sleeved white shirt, dark vest, dark pants) reference both Han Solo and Ansel Elgort's own musical career (where he has recorded, produced, and DJ'd under the name "Ansolo").
    • Buddy's real name is revealed on the police radio as "Jason Van Horn", during the middle of his slasher villain-like rampage during the climax of the film. His name, recently awakened psychotic behavior, and inhuman durability resembles Jason Voorhees, who is the subject of a discussion during the second heist.
  • Spotting the Thread: Bats notices that the crates that The Butcher is selling guns from are marked for law enforcement use, which means The Butcher and his team are actually undercover cops and not gunrunners. He's correct, but he wasn't aware that Doc was already paying their salaries when he decided to kill them.
  • Steel Ear Drums:
    • An aversion not involving guns. Baby's accident in his youth left him with tinnitus, and one of the reasons he listens to music all the time is to block out the humming in his ears.
    • Also averted in the climax, when Buddy fires his gun next to Baby's head to intentionally damage his hearing even further, and the effects last until at least the next day.
    • Played straight when Bats fires a shotgun right in front of Baby's face, with no signs of further hearing damage.
  • The Stoic: Baby adopts this persona in Doc's briefings. According to Buddy, Baby's nickname was chosen "because we're still waiting on his first words".
  • Stupid Crooks:
    • JD. Instead of getting masks based on the character Michael Myers from the movie Halloween, he gets Halloween masks of the actor Mike Myers from Austin Powers. Shortly after that, while the crew is changing cars, he ends up leaving his shotgun behind. This ends with Doc deciding that he's Too Dumb to Live.
    • Baby may have a perfectly innocent reason to record conversations around him, including while engaging in criminal conspiracy, but that doesn't mean it isn't very stupid.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix: Baby records snippets of everyday conversations and does this to them as a hobby. It bites him in the ass when his cohorts catch him in the act and suspect him of being a police snitch.
  • Tattooed Crook: Every criminal save for Baby and Doc has at least one tattoo, particularly Griff and Bats.
  • Theme Naming: Four of the most prominent of the criminals—"Baby", "Buddy", "Darling" and "Doc"—are all named after common terms of endearment. Those four, appropriately enough, survive the longest.
  • Thrill Seeker: Baby, Buddy, and Darling are all accused of being this. Deconstructed by Bats, who claims Buddy likely does these robbery, because he was once a Wall Street banker who got into so much debt and financial trouble that he lost everything, so he hooked up with Darling, gets high constantly, and does high-risk bank robberies in order to compensate.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Sam at first seems like a disinterested eight-year-old. But he's better at counting the number of cameras, guards, windows and everything in the post office than Baby is. Also, he points out the post office teller will probably "fold" before firearms are needed.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: The only robbery to go off without a hitch is the opening scene, meaning the audience did not hear the plan ahead of time. In the other two cases, the plan is explicitly stated beforehand, and both plans fall apart.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The formerly Affably Evil Buddy becomes a deranged killer after Darling is killed due to Baby's actions, and becomes obsessed with killing Debora to make Baby pay in return.
  • Wicked Cultured: The Butcher lives up to his name despite being an arms dealer as his knowledge of pork products is vast.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Happens a few times with Bats:
    • When the group is making a deal with The Butcher, he notices the guns are marked for law enforcement use, and assumes they're cops and starts shooting. They were cops, but cops already being paid off by Doc.
    • When they're in the diner, after he accurately sums up Buddy's motives for doing the heists, Darling tells Bats about how kill-crazy Buddy is. Bats applauds her speech, assuming it's just an act to make them look tougher. It's not.
    • He also mistakes Baby's blunt behavior towards Debora and his reluctance to eat at the diner as Baby disliking Debora, and tries to win Baby over by shooting her. When Baby grabs his hand holding the gun, Bats realizes that Baby was trying to protect her.

[knock knock] "...Questions?"

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