Baby Driver has a cool concept, stellar cast and great soundtrack. It's clearly trying to riff the road-movie genre in an urban setting by making it a road-movie that can't actually hit the road. But ironically enough that's kind of the problem with the film, it never manages to shift gear and become anything but what you see on the surface.
The film is all style and no substance, much like the women in the film. It's becoming clear that Edgar Wright has the inability to write women. Lily James' Debora pries into Ansel Elgort's Baby's backstory, creating a wounded, lonely but talented and misunderstood guy that we've seen a million times before. But we get no such insight into Debora herself apart from the fact she wants to runaway to nowhere which conveniently makes her the ideal girl for Baby who himself wants to do nothing but drive off away from his forced life of crime. Darling, played by Eiza González, is barely more than Buddy's (Jon Hamm) drive to steal, and later, seek vengeance. The women are present just to accekerate the story of the men. And it seems pretty clear that Baby is really only attracted to Debora because she reminds him of his Mother, which is more than a little creepy.
The film sells itself on its cool soundtrack and the fact the editing is heavily timed to the music. This sounds fun on paper and offers a slight laugh when a heist gets stalled and Baby has to start the song over. In practice however it becomes tiresome and results in a glorified music video. The editing is choppy, making it hard to tell what's going on. At one point we're watching a chase between two trucks and one of them ends up with the nose of the truck jammed under a moving lorry. I couldn't tell which truck was trapped because we're rarely offered a wide shot to take in what's going on. The well choreographed car chases are hidden in close-ups making it so hard to tell what's going on. Maybe this is an attempt to make us feel part of the action but if anything it isolates the audience.
It's also not clear if Wright wants us to suspend our disbelief and just go along for the ride or if we're meant to be invested in these characters and their experiences. It's clear we're meant to sympathise with Baby as he realises people are getting hurt during the heists (he's only realising this now?) and he doesn't want to be a part of this violence. But when he decides to fight back against the more loose-moraled criminals he straight-up murders them. In pretty horrific ways. We're also made to understand that although Baby is an excellent driver, he's also an awkward person, often walking into people, uneasy when he's out of his comfort-zone. Turns out the in third act that Baby is Batman. An expert at basic parkour, a marksmen, can run over the top of cars that are charging at him and has the ability to disappear mid-conversation when people look away for a second.
Edgar Wright needs to pick a lane because trying to drive in all of them results in an unsatisfying film. Also Edgar, if I can push the car analogy a little bit further, please let a woman at least share the driver's seat with you because female characters deserve better than this and you obviously have a learner's permit.
I think I'm done with car references now.