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‘Getaway’ is just too silly and choppy to stand out

‘Getaway’ is just too silly and choppy to stand out

getaway poster


Written by Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker

Directed by Courtney Solomon

USA, 2013

The next time you go to Walt Disney World—and you should—make sure to carve out some time in your vacation planning to see the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The 40-minute show has a simple setup: you, the audience, get to see how car chases from movies like Ronin or The Rock get staged and filmed, all the way from what the stuntmen wear to the various types of tricked-out cars employed in such fast-paced sequences. In the show, a handful of minor car chases are executed, centered around a bland, nondescript thriller plot in which the good driver has to outrun a number of bad drivers because he has a MacGuffin of sorts that they want. The fun isn’t in the been-there, seen-that plot, but in watching cars careen around curves, slam into fruit carts (it’s always fruit carts, isn’t it?), and spin out of control, the only soundtrack being their squealing tires.

It will cost a fair bit of money to visit Walt Disney World for any number of days, even more depending on how big your family is. There may be inclement weather—perhaps a monsoon-like storm will pass through the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. The other Disney World guests may get on your nerves. And still, that experience will easily surpass that of watching Getaway, a movie that aims to match the throwaway plot in Lights, Motors, Action!, while extending its forgettable nature to a full 90 minutes. On one hand, it’s almost admirable how quickly the script, by Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker, sidesteps any attempts at character development to get the main character, ex-race car driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke), into a souped-up Shelby to pull off feats of derring-do. Brent returns to his home in Bulgaria one day to find that his wife has been kidnapped by thugs working for a mysterious man (Jon Voight, sounding vaguely European, and considering that he clearly doesn’t care which country his character from, why should anyone else?). This man, known only as The Voice, instructs Brent to evade capture from cops, break into a power plant, and do more perplexing criminal work. Soon after this hellish journey begins, Brent is joined by The Kid (Selena Gomez), who may have a surprising connection to this whole ordeal.

getaway hawke selena gomez

Getaway is a 90-minute car chase, a movie that does not even aspire to match the artistry and character depth that can be found in such B-level video games as Midnight Club: Los Angeles. The script rarely rises above the rote instructions littered among such racing games: go here, do this, turn left, turn right, get out of the car, don’t get out of the car, etc. That we learn Brent’s name is something of a shock—why not just call him The Driver? The script’s total embrace of zero character development almost, but not quite, makes sense. If the concept of the movie is to shove Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez in a muscle car so they drive around Bulgaria for 90 minutes, learning perfunctory information about their characters may be extremely boring. However, this choice is but one half of a double-edged sword: if the Voice has an ulterior motive about kidnapping Brent’s wife (and he does, because of course he does), it may be necessary to offer up some ideas early in the film for what that motive may be. No such clues are forthcoming, making the eventual reveal inexplicable—though for sheer silliness, the final scene may be the winner, almost resolutely refusing to provide any logical, or even half-logical, explanation for what just transpired.

This is a film that does not boast performances so much as glowers. Hawke says very little as Brent, and seems more like he’s simply waiting to cash his paycheck. (His performance is about as phoned-in as it was in The Purge. Remember Before Midnight? That also came out this summer. One out of three ain’t bad.) Gomez, to her credit, is not provided with a deep or compelling character; the Kid is prone to telling Brent to shut up more often than not. However, we meet the Kid as she appears to break into the Shelby and attempt to rob Brent. Selena Gomez is many things, but a believable burglar is not one of them. Voight, the only other actor with a substantial amount of screen time, does a very good job of sipping coffee in close-up and staring at multiple computer screens smugly. But anyone could do that for the right amount of money.


Getaway is an extraordinarily silly film, and one that is so giddy about employing digital camera technology—the Shelby, the Voice mentions early, is fitted with a number of high-tech cameras so he can watch Brent from inside and outside the car—that it forgets to be directed with any flair or style. (Director Courtney Solomon has one trick up his sleeve, in the form of an extended one-take shot during one of many chases. One trick. One shot. One shot out of a thousand.) Getaway is 90 minutes of Ethan Hawke glaring, Selena Gomez pouting, and Jon Voight’s lips smacking delightedly, all mixed in with chopped-up shots of cars driving fast. Such time can be spent in many more constructive ways. Why, you could even watch a YouTube video of Disney’s Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Twice. With a bathroom break in between.

— Josh Spiegel