In Getaway, former professional race car driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) has one option to save his kidnapped spouse: follow a mysterious man’s phone instructions to speed a souped-up Shelby Mustang on a mission of chaos through Sofia, Bulgaria, with police in pursuit.
Brent is clueless to the caller’s identity and motive, and whenever he questions the directions, he’s made to hear the panicked cries of his wife. So the skilled driver, who fell out of racing and into some unsavory business before the love of a good woman turned his life around, reluctantly does what he’s told, even knowing others will be injured and possibly killed by his actions.
With a talented director, such a simple premise would be the raw material to a good action-thriller and moral quagmire.
With director Courtney Solomon, it’s an excuse for a 90-minute orgy of car chases and crashes that thoroughly tests the audience’s endurance and patience.
Solomon wastes little time in getting to the metal-on-metal carnage, with Brent speeding his stolen Mustang out of a parking garage, as ordered by an authoritative and slightly Euro voice (Jon Voight), and quickly smashing up a cluster of cop cars minutes later.
Not to worry, Sofia’s finest will be back. Again and again and again.
In Solomon’s first film in nearly a decade, it’s not just the cars that are a wreck, either. As the destruction (and presumably death) mounts on the crowded city streets, parks, sidewalks, and almost any place vaguely accessible by a maniac driver, Getaway becomes a massive pile-up of plot holes and lapses in story logic and common sense.
These troubles appear along with Brent's reluctant passenger, an unnamed young American woman (Selena Gomez) — IMDB.com lists her only as "The Kid" — who gets caught up in this caper when she attempts to hijack his car in a dark parking garage, one of the film's few breaks from its Road Warrior fury.
Directed by Courtney Solomon.
Written by Sean Finnega and Gregg Maxwell Parker.
A Warner Brothers release, playing at Cinemark Franklin Park, Fallen Timbers, and Levis Commons.
Rated PG-13 for intense action, violence, and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures, and language
Running time: 88 minutes.
Critic’s Rating ★½
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight, Rebecca Budig
★★★★★ Outstanding; ★★★★ Very
Good; ★★★ Good; ★★ Fair; ★ Poor
The stolen Mustang belongs to her — a gift from her wealthy and apparently non-attentive father — and she wants it back. She was tipped off to its whereabouts in a phone call from a local cop, and so she confronts Brent with a gun in her hand to reclaim it. And who is dumb enough to believe such a phone call? Apparently a master hacker and all-around gearhead.
Brent is told to take The Kid with him on his missions, which are monitored via interior and exterior car cameras as well as a microphone referenced only when convenient to the plot and often ignored when not.
Stuck in a car together, the lack of chemistry between Hawke and Gomez is glaring: Their characters bicker at first, then bond over their crazy predicament, and finally fight to keep each other alive. And at each of the several opportunities when Brent either demands or asks the often-grating Kid to get out of the car and save herself, you're wishing that she would.
But the story won't have it since The Kid is more than an annoying ride-along; she proves helpful in uncovering the motive for the missions and turning the tables on the caller.
For the two veteran actors, Getaway is clearly an easy paycheck — especially for Voight, who is tasked with little more than voiceover work and close-ups of stubble on his chin, or from behind a table of laptops from which he monitors the car's cameras and the police network.
For Gomez, however, Getaway represents — along with the R-rated dark comedy-drama Spring Breakers — another opportunity for the longtime fixture of the Disney Channel to assert herself as more than just a teen actress.
Working with the director of Dungeons & Dragons (2000) and An American Haunting (2005), however, isn't going to get that done.
If Gomez wants to change public perception of her Disney innocence, she needs to rethink her career strategy.
Or, at the very least, take up twerking.
Contact Kirk Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.