“Getaway” looked like the type of film that had potential. Not to actually be a good film, mind you; heavens, no. “Getaway” had the appearance of a film that could have accidentally stumbled onto greatness while drunkenly staggering on the line that divides the really awful films from the so-bad-they’re-enjoyable ones. Boasting that all of the destructive car crashes in the film are real and no CGI was used is certainly a feat in itself; it’s also the only enjoyable aspect of the film that “Getaway” pummels into the ground far too often rendering the crash scenes meaningless in the short span of 90 minutes. Unless, of course, you enjoy the endless whining of Selena Gomez, Ethan Hawke shouting things at the top of his lungs frequently, and close-ups of Jon Voight’s mouth as he eats and drinks. Then you’re in for a treat.
Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) is a former racecar driver who comes home from work to find that his wife has been kidnapped. His cellphone rings and the voice on the other end (Jon Voight) informs Magna that if he ever wants to see his wife alive again then Magna must do everything he says without question. Magna steals a Shelby Mustang Super Snake rigged with cameras and speeds around town causing mayhem wherever he goes while trying to avoid the authorities all at the command of the mysterious man pulling the strings on the other end of the phone. Magna crosses paths with a young girl (Selena Gomez), the original owner of the car, and is forced to take her along his catastrophic gallivanting across the city.
Going into “Getaway,” expectations were that the film would be similar to “Death Proof” at its best or “Drive Angry” at its worst. The action thriller seemed rather up front with its intentions which is something you discovered just by viewing the trailers of the film and which also meant that the film would be nowhere near as good as “Drive.” After witnessing the film’s quick pace, high speed chases, and all around calamitous atmosphere, Dwayne Johnson’s “Faster” came to mind. The homage and/or mimicry of other well-known car chase films wouldn’t end there, but the point is that “Getaway” seems to borrow from other well-known films that came before it without really offering anything substantial of its own.
The film feels like it had nearly a dozen cameras set up to capture every possible angle during the action sequences. While many of these sequences are intense, volatile, and undeniably bone crunching, the editing nearly ruins every sequence. The film shifts from camera to camera so often that it becomes dizzying. Then there’s the fact that “Getaway” never seems to keep one steady shot for longer than a three second period, so the hyperactive cameraman theory comes into play.
The absolute best moments of the film are when Ethan Hawke tells Selena Gomez to shut the hell up. Not only does Gomez seem to look down at Hawke’s character for nearly the entire film, but she also leaves her mouth agape during every high speed chase, makes stupid comments while the cops are on their trail (“Stop! Don’t! Quit it! Cut it out!”), audibly complains about everything, and is only thrown into the film to say, “S#!t,” as often as possible.
After finally getting trapped between a blockade and the closing in authorities, Magna executes an unbelievable maneuver that seems almost too easy and too illogical to even be considered realistic. Then there’s Selena Gomez who seems to know so much about cars, computers, and state of the art technology that you wonder why things don’t end sooner than they do and why her character makes such foolish decisions. These are only a few examples of how irrational the film can get at times, which makes it difficult to take seriously. You obviously aren’t supposed to as every adrenaline pumping car chase is made to seem as loud as possible to make you forget about these things, but no matter how loud car tires screech or how many vehicles scratch up against one another and fly into the air “Getaway” is never able to distance itself from absurdity.
“Getaway” is like a modern take of “Speed” (it even has the recording loop trick used in the 1994 film) blended with the “Gone in Sixty Seconds” remake, but is ruined by a limitless amount of redundant car crashes and an annoying little girl.
“Getaway” comes to movie theaters across the country today, August 30.