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The Kid (Selena Gomez) and Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) star in “Getaway.” Photo by Simon Varsano
The Kid (Selena Gomez) and Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) star in “Getaway.” Photo by Simon Varsano
ArtsRancho Santa Fe

Film review: Sloppy ‘Getaway’ hits the skids

If you think “Getaway” is the best means of escape from the dog days of a summer’s end, then now would be a good time to jump out of the car and find someone you can trust to drive you to where you want to go. 

When Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) arrives home to celebrate the winter holidays with his wife, Leanne (Rebecca Budig), he is greeted by the eerie sight of broken glass, ruined Christmas ornaments, and blood.

He is soon contacted by a mysterious man (Jon Voight), who instructs him to commandeer a Shelby Mustang Super Snake rigged with an array of cameras.

This unseen individual orders Brent to do exactly as he says while driving the car, threatening to kill his kidnapped wife otherwise.

With the clock racing against him, Brent is aided in his efforts by a tech-savvy teenage girl (Selena Gomez), who just so happens to be the car’s actual owner.

It was obvious from the start that “Getaway” had lost control of its acceleration and didn’t care about the dead end toward which it was headed.

Pretty much every action sequence you see involves police cars pursuing Brent’s Mustang, taking up 90 percent of the film’s running time.

Not once did director Courtney Solomon try to incorporate a different type of set piece to hold my interest, opting to stick to law enforcement vs. hero scenes only.

His choice of action got old in seconds, leaving the audience with nothing unique or exciting to look forward to. To those who enjoy action movies, word to the wise: this is what happens when you let repetitiveness take over.

Another significant problem lay within the choppy editing, something of which has become a common element in action films nowadays.

With so many quick cuts and frenetic movements, I found it difficult to understand what was happening.

If you were to sit in a theater for 90 minutes watching flashy colors, aggressive transitions, and chaotic motions attack your five senses, you’d be asking yourself what exactly you just saw on the big screen.

What bothered me most, however, was the story.

The so-called challenges Brent had to complete consisted of unlimited indiscriminate carnage — a senseless cycle of violence that lacked the conscience to hit the brakes. These “tasks” brought no purpose to “Getaway,” nor were they interesting in any shape or form. In addition, I couldn’t sense much of a connection between Hawke and his kidnapped wife other than the bare essentials, and there was no true chemistry between him and Gomez inside the modified car.

I had a bad feeling about the cast of this film upon first hearing about it, and my instincts were right. Ethan Hawke doesn’t have what it takes to become an action hero, despite his noteworthy accomplishments in other film territories. I still give him credit for trying, but perhaps he’ll learn his lesson from this and not get behind the wheel of a muscle car ever again.

In contrast, Selena Gomez is the last person I’d want to be my sidekick, no matter how knowledgeable she is about computers. Every line she utters, every reaction she displays, it’s enough to annoy even the most patient of moviegoers.

As for Jon Voight, who portrays the mysterious man giving orders, to say this role is worse than the one he played in “Anaconda” back in 1997 would be accurate. All you hear is his over the top East European voice, stemming from a mouth occupied with martinis and olives—hardly befitting for a worthy antagonist. To make matters worse, his “motivation” for making Hawke follow his instructions is not only insulting, but also trivial.

Don’t bother buckling your seatbelt and don’t even think about stepping inside the car labeled “Getaway,” as it is nothing more than a one-way ride. Do yourself a favor and find someone you know who can give you a lift.

MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense action, violence and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures and language.
Running time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Playing: In general release