FANTASIA FEST 2021: ‘Baby Money’ is Tense but Unmistakably Dull

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Baby Money

Baby Money is no Baby Driver, but at least it doles out a fair share of suspenseful sequences no matter how derivative they may seem. Directed by Mikhael Bassilli and Luc Walpoth, Baby Money is a taut crime heist gone wrong, much in the vein of 2017’s excellent Good Time but without the directorial flair and finesse of the Safdie Brothers

The whole film roughly takes place throughout one wild and unpredictable night, a savvy filmmaking decision that lends to the overall feel of a nightmare ongoing. A rag-tag team of fugitives led by Gil (Michael Drayer) attempts a risky home invasion in search of a box that will lead to a big payday once retrieved and delivered at 4:00 in the morning, but things go wrong. Very wrong. In this wild bunch is the hot-head of the group Dom (Joey Kern), who manages to escalate things into a violent shootout, immediately putting their plans in jeopardy as police begin to swarm and investigate the commotion. Lost in the shuffle is Gil’s very pregnant and frustrated girlfriend, Minny (Danay Garcia). She also happens to be their getaway driver and has to develop an escape plan before it’s too late.

Why would you place your pregnant girlfriend in this predicament? Why is she doing it? The payout is $75k, so I get that, but the danger is far too great. The film hints at a rocky and fractured relationship between the two, making her agreeability that much more egregious. It is one of those decisions in movies that takes you out of it.  Baby Money doesn’t spend the much-needed time developing Minny’s character, so her motivation for this dangerous heist is as thin as the plot itself. Okay, so she’s doing all of this for her unborn child. I’d go with it if the film made a bigger deal about it. Baby Money also deploys a menagerie of all-too-convenient circumstances that feel forced and quite frankly laughable — leaving your burner phone in the getaway car before you go inside a stranger’s home? Sure, it makes for some crackling suspense once the crap hits the fan, but that kind of carelessness completely took me out of the film. The film also suffers from what might be the world’s most clueless police officer, an opportunity the film should have used to ratchet up the tension but instead fumbles it into lame predictability.

I’m not sure who the film wants us to root. Minny has one facial expression throughout the film, she’s hesitant but succumbs to Gil’s outrageous promises, and we don’t learn much about her to feel like she’s even worth saving. I’m sure Danay Garcia is a fine actor, but she’s mostly wooden throughout all of this, and it doesn’t help that her character’s actions are downright indefensibly senseless. However, what can be salvaged is the heart-pumping score and a tonally intriguing opening act that reminds us of what could have been. Baby Money starts off with a bang, but the smoke dissipates long before things get interesting again.

The film also has a rather strange and improbable ending that left me scratching my head for most of the credits. I can only suspend my disbelief for so long and the conclusion, to me, pushed it a bit too far for my taste. For a second, I even thought, could this all have been a dream? And to be fair, Baby Money might be crazy enough to roll with it. Although you can find much better fare in films like Baby Driver, Good Time, and Don’t Breath, this film can be as nailbiting as you want it to be. The characters aren’t remotely interesting, but the tension is there and, at times, unbearably so. Which is good, right?

Baby Money is having its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival on August 10th, 2021.

 


Baby Money
  • 5/10
    Rating - 5/10
5/10

TL;DR

Although you can find much better fare in films like Baby Driver, Good Time, and Don’t Breath, this film can be as nailbiting as you want it to be. The characters aren’t remotely interesting, but the tension is there and, at times, unbearably so. Which is good, right?