Proving that it takes a lot more than burning rubber and quick gear shifts to make a great “Fast & Furious” style car flick, “Getaway” runs out of gas before it even puts the key into the ignition. Starring Ethan Hawke (Training Day), Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers), and Jon Voight’s (National Treasure) chin (seriously, he spends the entire movie in extreme close-up), CourtneySolomon’s (An American Haunting) movie adaptation to the poplar video game wants to be a high-octane thrill ride, but ends up packing as much horse-power as your parent’s beat up hatchback. Putting all pithy car witticisms aside, “Getaway” isn’t worth the price of admission or the commute that goes along with it—sorry, I couldn’t resist.
It’s a holly, jolly Christmas for everyone except “Getaway’s” protagonist Brent Magna (Hawke). Through a disjointed introductory black and white montage, we find out that a gang of mobsters has taken his wife hostage during the holiday season. Why you ask? Because an evil madman wants the former NASCAR never-was to finally live up to his racing potential. Oh yeah, and he also wants him to wreak automotive havoc across the entire country of Bulgaria in the process.
Like any good husband, Brent agrees to commandeer a souped up Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang—or what I like to call ‘The Most American Car Ever’—and embark on a deadly game of cat-and-mouse in the hope that he will see his wife again. Along the way, a hooded, flat brimmed hat wearing Selena Gomez joins the mix and somehow manages to make the already dull “Getaway” even more tedious to sit through.
The biggest problem with setting a movie inside the confines of a two-door sports car is there really isn’t any room for character growth—both literally and figuratively. Add in the fact that most of Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker’s script consists of one mindless car chase scene dissolving into another, and you get a movie where the two central leads are characterized by their variant levels of “woah that crash was crazy” and “aah that drift was nuts.” For these two first time screenwriters, dialogue is apparently irrelevant.
Sadly, even if “Getaway’s” script allowed for a more in depth story, Hawke and Gomez’s performances seemed more manufactured than the Shelby’s metal car frame. Gomez, who had a fantastic turn as a wayward college student in this year’s “Spring Breakers,” plays the wealthy daughter of the president of Bulgaria’s largest bank. Instead of humanizing the overly affluent teen, she is content whining and moaning through most of her lines. As for Hawke, the two time Oscar nominated actor looked more worried about cashing his paycheck than saving his fictional wife.
With a plot that makes “Phone Booth” look overly complicated, it’s clear that “Getaway” is much more concerned with showing a sleek car doing crazy stunts than the person behind the wheel. Unfortunately, Solomon’s jerky, Go-Pro style approach to car chases is monotonous, nauseating, and dizzying. There might be plenty of crash and burn moments in “Getaway’s” narrative, but none bigger than the movie itself.
“Getaway” does get one thing right. With a title that implies escapism, I couldn’t help but feel like I needed to escape the movie theater.
By David Morris