Brett Magna (Ethan Hawke) is just having one of those days. He comes home from work to find his house in shambles, Christmas decorations strewn about and no wife. Then some dickhead calls his cell phone, says he’s kidnapped his old lady and demands he run a bunch of errands to get her back. WTF? The former racecar driver/wheelman probably just wanted to settle down for a long winter’s nap at his home in Sofia, Bulgaria, and now this shit?
So it’s off to steal a tricked-out silver Shelby Mustang Cobra from a garage and drive all over the city smashing into stuff on command as this dude yaps at him over the cell interface in the dash. Can’t get caught by the cops or else, y’know, the wife dies. Then some bratty kid (Selena Gomez, credited as “The Kid”) gets in the passenger seat, sticks a gun in Brett’s face and says it’s her car. So then there’s that and he still can’t figure out what this asshole on the phone wants. Dude just needs to get away.
Getaway is the product of third-time director Courtney Solomon (who gave us the masterpiece that was Dungeons & Dragons) and fledgling writers Gregg Parker and Sean Finegan. The lack of experience is evident, since the plot points came from the onomatopoeia sound effects from the classic Batman TV show. Bang! Zoom! Crash!
This flick roars out of the gate and red-lines it the entire way. The pace is so frantic that it’s exhausting and makes the 90-minute runtime seems like an eternity. Cinematography-wise, the clutch-shift-accelerate angles work for a bit but just fade into the background noise after too many instances. Of course, all that action is an absolute must in order to distract you from the inane premise and complete lack of substance. Take a little bit of Phone Booth, add in some Gone in 60 Seconds, sprinkle with live-action Grand Theft Auto and a Ford commercial, then douse with high-test racing fuel, set on fire and flush the remains down the toilet.
Ethan Hawke anchors this stalled-out shambles. What’s to really say about his performance in a shallow role that’s never allowed to develop? He looks convincing as a former racecar driver, if that helps. Selena Gomez’s character is worse than shallow, it’s the character upon which all the excess details get foisted in order to make some semblance of sense (spoiler: it didn’t work). She would have to play a less-ridiculous role in order to be fairly judged as whether or not she has a place in the world outside of Disney fare. John Voight’s voice serves ably as the most priggish GPS speaker in the world.
Getaway is a cautionary tale of doing over-the-top stunts without a safety net. It’s probably inspired by the grand heist its filmmakers pulled in getting this turbo-charged jalopy green-lit. When someone asks you to go see it, just GTFO instead.