By all accounts, Baby Driver is pretty awesome.
As we’ve mentioned before, you don’t get 97% on Rotten Tomatoes without good reason – this film is beautifully shot, full of style, high octane (yes, we’re using that word deliberately) action, and plenty of funny moments.
This movie was made thanks to a lot of talented individuals, but it’s hard not to give all the credit (deservedly or otherwise) to its director, Edgar Wright, who managed to wrangle together a smart team to make something really special.
Wright has developed a pretty solid cult following over the years, to the point that people generally know one of his movies when they see one, even without knowing the name behind the swift edits and funky music.
It’s no surprise, then, that the studio behind the movie is pressuring Wright to deliver a sequel. It is perhaps a little surprising, though, that Wright is actually considering making one.
Speaking on the Empire podcast, Wright stated:
“The studio have asked me to think about writing a sequel and it is funny that it is one of the ones that I might do a sequel to, because I think there’s somewhere more to go with it in terms of the characters. Especially, Baby has got to a new place.”
That’s really great news – certainly this movie has a lot more of a “drive into the sunset” vibe than other movies in Wright’s existing portfolio, and it’s easy to see another movie in this universe working well (we’ll avoid spoilers here, but just be aware that there could be another one without twisting the lore too much).
If that’s the case, though, and we do get a direct sequel to this movie (for the first time in Wright’s career), it’s a perfect opportunity for the director to fix the big, gaping hole in the original film.
Be warned: once you’ve had this pointed out to you, you may find the movie absolutely infuriating. Or, you might not care – that all depends on your view on the importance of female characters in movies.
To say that Baby Driver fails the Bechdel test is like saying that it’s not suitable for children under the age of five. It’s something of an understatement.
There are a smattering of female characters in this movie, but (again, trying so hard to avoid spoilers) for the most part they could easily be replaced by cardboard cut-outs and nobody would really notice. They’re not just one-dimensional, they only actually exist to fill space when the men folk don’t have enough reasons to bicker with one another.
The most egregious of these one-dimensional female characters is Debora, the love interest played by Lily James (she was Cinderella in Disney’s live action reboot, and she had a lot more to do in that movie despite still just waiting around for Prince Charming). Despite being displayed as a match for the titular Baby in terms of musical taste and yearning for freedom, she does nothing of her own volition in the entire movie, instead following her love interest around like a puppy dog, and waiting for him to act.
You wouldn’t even need a carboard cut-out to replace Debora in the story – a coffee machine would have done the job just fine. Baby can’t get out of a life of crime because he’s worried about his beloved coffee machine. It works just fine.
Or, she could be a cassette tape. Baby’s forced to confront his evil Kevin Spacey boss because he needs to make sure his beloved cassette tape, with his favorite music on it, is safe. That’s how much of an impact Debora makes on the plot.
So yes, Edgar Wright, make a sequel. Give us another Baby Driver, but this time, give a female character something – anything – to do except look pretty and nod politely whenever a male character makes a decision.
It’d make such a better movie, because it’d be far more true to real life, where approximately fifty percent of human beings are women (give or take an outlier).
Sorry if this isn’t something in movies that bothers you, but for those of us who care about seeing fair representation of women, auteur comedy director Edgar Wright really ought to give this another shot.
Maybe literally, if that’s all it takes.
Now let’s listen to some Simon and Garfunkel, and think about what might be possible if this movie even tried to make its female characters interesting.