Theatrical Review: Getaway

Former race-car driver Brent Magna has returned home to find that it’s been ransacked and his wife is now missing. Soon, Magna receives instructions from a mystery man to steal a car and be ready to perform all sorts of tasks for him or else his wife will be killed. The car that Magna has been told to steal is a highly customized Shelby Super Snake Mustang that’s been structurally reinforced and fitted with cameras and microphones so that the mystery man can see and hear everything that Magna does. In the midst of the chaos that Magna is causing (on the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria), He’s tracked down by a young woman known here as The Kid who pulls a gun on Magna and claims the car as her own, Magna is forced to bring the girl along with him and soon finds out that both are part of the plans of the mystery man. Now they must endure a race against time in order to save themselves and Magna’s wife.

That’s the premise to Getaway an action thriller from Dark Castle Entertainment, a production company that has specialized in lower-budget genre films that have included movies like Whiteout, Thir13en Ghosts, Ghost Ship, RocknRolla and a couple of favorites of mine like Ninja Assassin and Splice. Getaway is directed by Courtney Solomon who prior to this has directed An American Haunting (which I’ve not seen) and Dungeons & Dragons (which I saw when it came out and at least remember being entertained by it at the time). Getaway certainly feels like it’s the sort of project that I’d expect to see from Dark Castle and it certainly seems to me like it’s designed to appeal to the same audience that likes the Fast & Furious movies. I thought the trailer to the movie looked fun, but unfortunately the movie is more a noisy endurance run more than anything else. This thing is a mess.

This 90-minute car chase is so convoluted that it feels like you’re watching an overly scripted video game that has to have certain things happen in the right moment for it to progress and of course all of these things do happen. It’s cliche-ridden abound with the biggest offender being the character of The Kid who’s not only extremely unlikeable but also serves as the deus ex machina of the movie; the computer hacker who can perform magic with the touch of a few buttons- maybe one of the biggest character cliches that you see in movies today. There’s absolutely no humor to be found in the movie whatsoever and the chases themselves are shot in such a staccato manner that they’re just not exciting at all to watch. Now this chase part does get a little bit better by the film’s end with a pretty cool nearly two-minute long single shot from the hood of the Mustang as it’s in pursuit of the villain of the film, but by then it’s too little too late, because really you just don’t care.

As I said at the top, when I saw the trailer, I thought it looked fun and another part of the appeal to me was that this starred Ethan Hawke (playing Brent Magna). Hawke’s certainly done a lot of very good work in the past and has played in several recent genre films (including The Purge from earlier this year. When it comes to his genre roles, I tend to think that Hawke has chosen to do them because there is just a little bit of a twist to the parts, but unfortunately, that’s not the case with Getaway Brent Magna is a by-the-numbers lead that you’ve seen time and again in film, though to Hawke’s credit, he plays it well and with conviction. He doesn’t elevate the material here, but at least he doesn’t embarrass himself either, though I doubt this movie will be one that he puts on the top of his resume. Selena Gomez plays The Kid (no name is given to her throughout the film) and five minutes into her scenes in the film, I’d pretty much had enough. She looks like she’s about 13 years old here and doesn’t for a moment seem like she’d have the wherewithal to sell the idea that she’s an expert hacker who could break into complex computer systems let alone have a license to drive and own a car. She’s just annoying as can be though I can’t lay the blame entirely at her as the script just doesn’t do her any favors. When she first encounters Magna, she’s told right up front what’s going on and yet repeatedly through the film she questions why Magna is doing what’s he’s doing and calls him an ‘asshole” for doing it. That really doesn’t do much to endear her to the audience. I have to give further kudos to Ethan Hawke just for being a pro and putting up with this.

Further, we do actually have a name actor in the part of the mystery man (known in the credit listings as The Voice) but before you get to him, you go through two substitutes (played by Bruce Payne and Paul Freeman) before we get the big reveal and then it just doesn’t matter in the slightest, because really nothing else further is told about this character other than he was a big fan of Magna’s while Magna was on the racing circuit. I won’t reveal who this actor is just in case any who are reading this are still planning to see the movie, but still the final revelation is underwhelming to say the least.

Coming into this, I really wanted to like Getaway, I really did. I think it’s totally possible to make a 90-minute car chase movie and make it with some wit and charm, but that’s just not the case here. Ethan Hawke is certainly solid in his part and there’s one good car chase bit in the film (the above-mentioned single shot scene), but a convoluted and clunky script and an overly annoying performance from Selena Gomez squashes that. Steer far away from Getaway.

By Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

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