In Getaway, Ethan Hawke plays former professional race-car driver Brent Magna, who comes home one day to discover that his place has been trashed and his wife Leanne (Rebecca Budig) is gone. Brent then gets a phone call from a mysterious man (Jon Voight) with a Bulgarian accent, who claims that he has kidnapped Leanne – and commands Hawke’s NASCAR washout to obey his every command, if the latter ever wants to see her (alive) again.
Brent’s first order of business is to steal a heavily-armored Shelby Super Snake Mustang, which his unknown criminal ‘boss’ has covered with security cameras so that he may keep a watchful eye on his ‘employee.’ Shortly thereafter, Brent unwittingly picks up a young woman (Selena Gomez) who, at first glance, appears to be trying to hijack the Mustang. However, it turns out that the anonymous girl is not a thief at all, but an integral part of a convoluted plan devised by “The Voice”; not to mention, she is the only person who can help Brent save his wife.
Getaway was directed by Courtney Solomon, whose previous movies include the infamous Dungeons & Dragons live-action movie adaptation and the unmemorable horror feature An American Haunting. Somehow, despite having set the bar so low with his first two films, Solomon’s latest project might be his biggest turkey yet, between the dunder-headed screenwriting, lack of character development, absence of thematic substance, and an over-abundance of poorly-executed vehicular action sequences. Unfortunately, Getaway isn’t even an unhealthy, yet tasty serving of ham and cheese like Solomon’s D&D adaptation – it’s just a flavorless dish.
The Getaway script written by newcomers Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker is a mess; yet, it seems as though their intention was to produce a clever variation on the single-setting B-movie sub-genre – one that offers an underlying message, no less (think Phone Booth, if the “Booth” had been a fast-moving car). It’s too bad then that the screenwriters apparently forgot to include such basic ingredients as meaningful character-establishing moments, coherent plot beats or dialogue that is anything more than perfunctory and bland. By the time the end credits start rolling, the story is so littered with holes and questionable character actions that it’s hard to figure out a proper spot to start nit-picking.
Hawke and Gomez, for their part, make for one of the worst onscreen pairings in recent memory. Hawke does attempt to bring some genuine emotional weight and personality to his character, but he’s given so little in terms of decent material to draw from that it’s hard to blame him too much for a half-hearted performance. Gomez, meanwhile, plays the foul-mouthed, young, and tech-savvy foil to Hawke’s world-weary and street-smart protagonist. However, the actress/singer’s flat line delivery and stilted mannerisms makes her sidekick character seem far less tough and smart than she’s meant to be. (As for Voight as “The Voice,” he is neither that sinister nor cartoonishly over the top – just kind of boring, really.)
Getaway starts off clunky, as editor Ryan Dufrene (Terror Trap) drops the audience right into the action while jumping awkwardly between the present and black-and-white flashbacks. Thereafter, Dufrene frantically cuts back and forth between the many different shot angles captured by the cinematographer Yaron Levy (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning), who makes heavy use of the grainy (read: ugly) footage from security cameras that are attached to the central Mustang set piece. While Levy’s approach results in some unconventional composition, the ADD-style editing robs them of any impact they might’ve had when combined to form the film’s many action sequences.
The even bigger problem? Getaway is closer to being a non-stop chase sequence – where characters occasionally stop to do something and figure out where they are heading next – rather than a real three-act narrative. That would be okay, if the limited settings and thrill-ride structure actually served to illustrate the purpose of the antagonist’s plan (which is utterly preposterous, when you pause to think it over), or bring more depth to the main characters and the film. However that’s not the case, and instead Getaway boils down to a series of action scenes that result in a ton of automobiles being wrecked – yet, because the execution is muddled, even the car racing isn’t that enjoyable to watch (and gets real repetitive real quick).
Basically, Solomon’s direction is so amateurish that Getaway fails to even provide serviceable B-movie thrills – and leaves you wondering if this flick would even pass Film School 101 standards. Vehicle-crash porn enthusiasts (that’s a term, right?) will even struggle to find much to like about the movie, given that the action often feels like a D-grade variation on the automobile racing in the worst Fast and the Furious installment.
As one audience member who had accompanied her boyfriend to my screening put it (very loudly and multiple times once the credits started rolling): “That was SO stupid.” Indeed.
Getaway is 94 minutes long and Rated PG-13 for intense action, violence and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures and language. Now playing in theaters.