Believe us when we say we’re stoked “Baby Driver” made a mint this weekend. And believe us, too, when we claim we mean zero offense when we say that we hope there isn’t a “Baby Driver” sequel.
Now, now, we love “Baby Driver.” And we love this movement going through the movies in 2017 — a weird new trend called “original ideas.” This weekend, Wright’s new action movie joined “Split” and “Get Out” as hit films not tied to a franchise. They’re fresh concepts peppered over our franchise-heavy mainstream movie hellscape.
They’re more than that, though: All three are auteur-driven movies. It was recently reported that Warner Bros. may start avoiding eccentric directors who demand final cut. (This came weeks before the release of “Dunkirk,” made by Christopher Nolan, one of the auteuriest auteurs working in Hollywood.) They want to control their product, which is what movies have all but become: product. Movies have always been product, of course, but there’s also always been enough artistry involved to make them more than mere cash cows. The director is a major part of that artistry. But with these films, we can now show that there’s a cash incentive to handing over the keys to a weirdo filmmaker: Avoid them and you don’t get M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” or Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” or Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver.”
This brings us back to the news that Sony has predictably already asked Wright for “Baby Driver 2.” Even as staunch “Baby Driver” fans, we don’t like this news. For one thing, it’s such a classic lazy Hollywood move: Duplicate a success by simply trying to repeat it. Don’t look for something similar-but-different; just throw a “2” in front of a hit and bleed the brand till it’s dry.
For another, “Baby Driver” works just fine on its own. It’s a great one-off, a strong stand-alone. We suppose you could catch back up with Baby (Ansel Elgort) and Debora (Lily James), see how they fare after they’re free of his criminal life. Maybe one of their felled foes has a brother or a sister seeking revenge? Or maybe when you want some more “Baby Driver,” you could just watch “Baby Driver” again. It’s fairly dense with goodness, ripe for revisits that reveal things you didn’t notice the first (or third, or fifth) time. (Then again, tell this to studios, who won’t make much cash on streaming and especially not on Blu-ray purchases.)
Then there’s Wright himself. He’s an absurdly talented, creative guy. He’s made five movies that all have a similar vibe — a love for mashing up old trashy genres in a way that’s both fanboyish and self-aware, even self-critical — yet still feel each of them special. His three films with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are each distinct, each touching on different ideas. True, Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver 2” would probably be markedly different than the original.
But we’d rather him try something new — light off in some odd, unexpected direction, give us something that will cause execs to ask him, “Hey, how about a sequel to that?” (And let us thank him now for not giving us another obvious sequel: “Shaun of the Dead 2.”) In other words, want a repeat of “Baby Driver”? Simply hire Edgar Wright and let him do whatever he wants.
Then again, if a movie must have a sequel, it might as well be “Baby Driver.” It’s a fun world, its world — both heightened and gritty, funny and grim. Its characters can be charming and silly, but they also bring real pain. A sequel would share more DNA with, say, Donald E. Westlake’s crime novels following the criminal known only as Parker than it would a “Pirates of the Caribbean” entry, following a hero as he navigates a world he doesn’t like but knows how to survive. It’s not a terrible idea. But we’d rather everyone move on. We’d rather execs didn’t put “Baby Driver” in a franchise corner.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge