Film Review: GETAWAY (directed by Courtney Solomon)

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by Kevin Bowen on August 29, 2013

in Film


The car porn chiller Getaway is a movie of wonder.  I wondered about the way the film was actually made – the shooting sequence, the extravagant car flips and pile-ups, the monotone acting.  Did Ethan Hawke actually shoot all of the gear shifting shots?  Or was that Ethan Hawke’s hand double?  Did they shoot one gear shift and re-use that footage?  Or is there a special gear shift for each scene so that each one has a different feel?  And were Ethan Hawke and Disney queen Selena Gomez even in the car for more than 25 minutes, tops?

In theory, Hawke and Gomez are the stars – Hawke completing his usual “good film, bad film” cycle after Before Midnight; Gomez cursing so much that you wonder if she and Miley Cyrus are in a contest to see who can lacerate their Disney image first.  But the real star is the automobile: A Shelby muscle car challenging a fleet of Bulgarian police cruisers, practically waving the American flag out the window each time another wimpy European BMW bites the dust.  (You know, you could fill a small tool closet with all of the criminals caught by Eastern European police in the history of the movies.)

Plot-wise, Getaway finds the lowest common denominator of the lowest common denominator.  Describing it wouldn’t quite reach the level of Theo Huxtable’s legendary movie plot summary to Dr. Huxtable back on The Cosby Show:  “Somebody stole his car and he had to get it back.”  But it’s pretty close, yet more like, “Somebody stole his wife and he had to steal a car to get her back.”  After swiping the car, Hawke is forced to crash through crowded marketplaces and ice rinks to save his spouse.  The diabolical driving directions come from an underworld kingpin (Jon Voight) who gives them – Charlie’s Angels-intercom-style – through the car’s phone system.

If we’re generous, we could say that Getaway might be emulating Drive with less goo-goo stares and more outright speed.  Character is, in theory, only revealed through action, although there’s far more action than revealed character.  The messy car chases willfully blow past the 180 rule like it’s a police roadblock or something.  However, the 180 rule probably fares better than the suspension of disbelief – you could never watch this much vehicular mayhem and believe that no pedestrian ever rolls up onto the front hood.

As a critic with tendencies toward vulgar auteurism, shouldn’t I feel a need to make a case for a low-end Joel Silver-Courtney Solomon schlock car movie?  I would say no.  The genius of VA favorites is the ability to balance classical Hawkesian filmmaking with a post-modern demolition of it.  I can appreciate what Getaway is trying for without thinking it has much success at it.  Ultimately, there’s not enough vulgar auteurism in the world to save this puppy.

photos by Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment
rated PG-13; running time: 1 hour 30 minutes
in wide release August 30, 2013

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