Getaway Review

Like a short story written by an ADHD-raddled third grader addicted to Adderall, Getaway drives right off the road.

A car speeds down a vaguely European looking motorway. In the blurry frenzy of motion, police vehicles zip through the weaving traffic after the Shelby Mustang Supersnake like a pack of particularly clumsy pooches attempting to keep pace with a UPS truck. They swerve, they collide and they go boom in fiery quick-cuts interspersed between shaky-cam close-ups. Spliced amongst all this carnage are dramatic flashbacks of our heroic driver coming home one Christmas Eve Morn to discover that his wife has been kidnapped by a shadowy and (again) VAGUELY European voice, trying his damndest to turn the 30-second “Good luck” scene from Taken into a full 90-minute film. It is a blazingly confusing set-piece. And it’s also the first five minutes of the picture. Welcome to Getaway. Not to be mistaken as a remake of The Getaway (1994) with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, which itself was a remake of a superior 1972 Sam Peckinpah movie starring Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw, this Getaway is uniquely its own “story.” I am hesitant to use the word story without some type of qualifier, as this film suffers from a malady masquerading as a screenplay that even an ADHD-raddled third grader addicted to Adderall would be ashamed of. This ailment, credited to Gregg Maxwell Parker and Sean Finegan, proves particularly fatal by the time Selena Gomez enters the picture as a character known only as “The Kid,” which is still honestly a far more memorable signifier than the other lead cardboard panel’s insignia. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
 Our lead hero’s name is Brent Magna (thanks IMDB!) and he is played with all the stoic emotion of a 64-bit NPC. It is striking to see Ethan Hawke, who also stars in arguably the best film of 2013 to date (Before Midnight), take part in one of the year’s absolute worst. However, blame cannot be placed on the actor. How much can he do when his entire character arc is explained to the audience within the first 90 seconds from a disembodied voice: Brent apparently washed out of professional racing some years back, but now he must DRIVE! He is not even given the dignity of showing his face onscreen until an entire action sequence, in which his point-of-view is shot from the first person, has been completed. He is then given a good 30 seconds to consider The Voice’s (Jon Voight on auto-pilot) offer before it’s back to the driving, and the crashing, and the booms-booms. While watching this unaware-parody of a prologue, it struck me that this would be a terrific opening sequence to the new Grand Theft Auto V. Indeed, the whole scene plays like a great introduction to our new Niko stand-in: Someone appropriately gruff and heroic looking, but with an edge of counterculture rebellion (and who better for that than the former posterboy of Gen X?) ready to achieve his goals by running over every pedestrian standing in his way. Hell, halfway through the movie, as The Voice’s motives remain hidden for about 60 minutes, I even wondered if Voight’s character was just so impatient for GTAV that he was recreating it in his spare time with Brent. It would explain why he was constantly ordering Brent to ram civilian cars and drive on a variety of off-road locations, including a Christmas Eve-filled skating rink. He also provides Brent with his own chatty sidekick. Enter the Gomez.
 I am not sure why someone down the line at Warner Brothers or Dark Castle Pictures thought putting Ms. Gomez in a film where she constantly sports a hoodie and waves a handgun would be a good idea…but thank you. It nearly makes the picture when she first attempts to carjack Hawke. Even the portion of the audience around me who applauded every explosion couldn’t suppress the giggles when The Kid dropped a curse word each ten minutes, proving she’s got ATTITUDE. It turns out that the lustfully photographed Mustang belonged to the Kid before it got jacked two days prior, leading her to initially believe Brent is the bad guy. But soon, she is deep in it too when The Voice reveals she is not allowed to leave the car until his night of dictated havoc is done. Fortunately, The Kid is a tech wiz and can rewire all the cameras and audio bugs The Voice has placed in the car simply by clicking a few Apps on her iPad. “We got the cards now, asshole,” The Kid gloriously delivers in the film’s third act. Honestly, Gomez’s expressionless stares and always perfectly placed, shimmering hair add little to the movie’s strength or weakness, because she too is a victim of being a vehicle for the action. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if the action had been visible. Getaway smacks headlong into the contemporary mistake that jittery cam close-ups and rapid-fire editing should be the techniques du jour for car chases. When one has no idea where the car is in relation to its pursuers or even what door handle they’re zoomed in on as the automotive engine roars along, it all becomes increasingly more like that video game: Fun to play, exceedingly dull to watch.
 Director Courtney Solomon (Dungeons & Dragons) clearly was aware of this, as he emulates Claude Lelouch’s C’était un rendez-vous short film during his third act climax. When Hawke’s speedy pursuit of the bad guy across a German-ish countryside during a sunrise is captured entirely in a single uncut one-shot, Solomon successfully recreates a bit of the magic from that 1976 short film, which is hands down the best car “chase” ever committed to celluloid. Unfortunately, this highlights even further how lifeless, pointless and witless the rest of the direction of Getaway is with its haphazard attempts at suspense or thrills. Instead, it illustrates how one trapped inside the trunk of a speeding car would probably feel. An alternative that is not wholly unwelcome when compared to sitting through this cinematic road kill. Den of Geek Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

Rating:

1 out of 5