Edgar Wright’s latest movie, “Baby Driver,” provides audiences with drama, action and romance, all rolled up into one packed film. In the spirit of post Valentine’s Day, we can look into Baby Driver’s main theme of the forces of good and evil, and what role love plays in them.
“Baby Driver” teaches us that good and evil are not always as black and white as they may seem. Even though Baby commits numerous crimes, Wright illustrates how he is also a victim — not just a petty criminal without a motive. Although Baby is talented at what he does and uses this talent for a life of crime, we know Baby is still a good person. He warns an employee of the heist he is about to be a part of, and even gives an old lady her purse back after he steals her car.
So what truly makes a person bad? If “Baby Driver” tries to convey anything, it’s that a person’s actions are not the sole indicators of a person’s goodness. Doc is manipulative and the mastermind behind every operation, and yet, we can still see some goodness for Baby, even after years of exploiting him for his personal benefit. On the other hand, Buddy — while easy-going and perhaps one of the most likeable characters in the beginning — does everything in his power to hunt down Baby and avenge his girlfriend Darling’s death. However, does this quest for revenge truly make him evil? I am willing to argue that, like Baby, Buddy is simply another victim to his environment. After all, his bloodthirsty chase only begins after the love of his life is killed when Baby grows a conscience and the heist goes wrong.
However, since his anger is directed at Baby — the protagonist and hero of the story — Buddy is portrayed as evil and reprehensible in the eyes of the audience.
Of course, picking sides is natural in any movie, as it’s the director’s job to portray a character in a favorable light, and stick with this theme, showing all of the good in the protagonist and villainizing anyone who goes against them. Nonetheless, while Wright does justify Baby’s life of crime, he makes sure to emphasize that Baby is carrying out the consequences to his childhood mistake. While Wright does give Baby’s enemies a much more grim ending for their evil-doings, he doesn’t let Baby completely off the hook. Baby accepts his fate, giving himself up to the police and paying for his crimes in prison.
Wright also makes the impact of love one of his principal themes, showing us the flipside to both its positive and negative effects. On one hand, we have Baby, who chooses he must give up his life of crime for Debora — the newfound love of his life. Rather than staying in the highly profitable team of criminals, Baby realizes he needs to be better for Debora and chooses to protect her from the evils he commits. Additionally, rather than trying to escape from the police once he’s caught, Baby turns himself in to protect Debora from any legal repercussions. In addition, Baby’s mother serves as his motivation for freeing himself from a life of crime. Here, Wright shows how love can bring out the best in people and inspire them to change for the better.
On the other hand, Wright shows the negative side to love through Buddy and Darling’s relationship. Once Darling is killed, Buddy does everything in his power to seek revenge. Not only does this quest cost him his life, it endangers the lives of many around him. Through Buddy, Wright shows the destructive nature of love, particularly when it inspires actions solely out of revenge or wrath.
“Baby Driver” showcases the delicate balance between good and evil, with Wright commenting that in the end — when one repents of one’s evil actions — there is always a possibility for a happy ending. Today’s society is riddled with a constant struggle between right and wrong. However, if “Baby Driver” teaches us anything, it’s that it’s up to us to use love as a positive outlet, not as a justification for negative actions.
“Baby Driver” teaches us that good and evil are subjective with plenty of gray areas in between. While a person’s upbringing may result in negative behaviors, it’s not always synonymous with the corruption of the person as a whole. Instead, it’s the person’s ultimate intentions that determine the goodness of an action. Additionally, Wright explores the duality of love, showing both the evolution of a person into a life of good actions and a regression of an individual to their most elemental and basic human passions. Nonetheless, Wright manages to weave these major themes into a movie that leaves audiences rocking out to a great soundtrack and wanting to learn how to drive a car as well as Baby does.