Directed by: Courtney Solomon
Premise: A former race car driver (Ethan Hawke) must crisscross a Bulgarian city performing tasks at the whim of a criminal who has kidnapped his wife.
What Works: Getaway is a low budget suspense thriller and when the movie is just trying to deliver action and kinetic thrills it mostly works. The chase scenes are a lot of fun and director Courtney Solomon has a talent for them. Amid all of the gear shifting, quick turns, collisions, and explosions, the action remains relatively coherent, which is admirable since so many big budget action films fail at the most basic sense of screen direction. Getaway also displays a great sense of style. Car chases are old hat in action movies but this film includes some unusual camera angles and it is a very well edited movie.
What Doesn’t: Getaway has some solid technical credits but whenever the movie slows down—which is quite often—the thinness of its plot and the stupidity of its premise are exposed. According to the conceit of the movie, Ethan Hawke’s character is a former race car driver who is blackmailed into performing tasks on behalf of a criminal mastermind. The tasks mostly involve causing car accidents, usually by ramming into buildings and other vehicles. This immediately creates a problem. After a few of these collisions the car ought to be undrivable but it rarely shows any damage until the very end when it is suddenly a wreck. That kind of implausibility defines the entire movie. The story is rife with coincidences as police show up out of nowhere and repeatedly give up their pursuit for no reason. Getaway also has a laughable regard for technology, especially in the use of webcams and the way characters are able to hack into electronic public services as easily as checking their Facebook account. This is all absurd but when the master plan is revealed the movie gets really stupid. If Getaway were just about tormenting Hawke’s character that simplicity might work but the movie turns into a caper in which the driver serves as the patsy for a bigger scheme. The design of this heist is overelaborate and the filmmakers do not have the skill to pull it off. The more complex the story gets, the stupider it all becomes. There are a million inconsistencies in Getaway but what’s worse is that many of them are unnecessary. This is a movie undone by its attempts to be more complicated than it should be and every twist that is supposed to make it seem smarter instead retroactively drills plot holes into the earlier parts of the story. It is eventually revealed that the damage caused by Hawke’s character creates an escape route for the heist but when the film reaches its climax that escape route does not play into anyone’s plans, rendering moot the whole point of this adventure. Getaway does not make sense but unlike some other mindless entertainments it isn’t engaging enough to cover for those inconsistencies. Getaway also goes wrong with the casting Selena Gomez. She plays the rightful owner of the car and enters the movie about a third of the way in, attempting to take the vehicle back at gunpoint. Gomez is an actress with a very limited range and the role of a thuggish gearhead is way beyond her skillset. She isn’t helped by the clunky and cliché ridden dialogue which is supposed to be witty but often sounds like it was written by an older writer trying (and failing) to imagine what a teenager would say.
Bottom Line: Getaway is a direct-to-video feature that somehow made its way into theatrical release. The movie is passably entertaining as a mindless car picture but it’s too stupid to be taken seriously.
Episode: #456 (September 15, 2013)