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"GETAWAY"
(2013) (Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Action/Thriller: When his wife is kidnapped, a former race car driver is forced to commandeer a young woman's car and ends up taking her along for the ride as he must follow the kidnapper's directions.
PLOT:
Brent Magna (ETHAN HAWKE) is a former professional race car driver who burned out of that sport and turned to being a driver for hire, sometimes for illegal pursuits. But now he's given all of that up to spend time with his wife, Leanne (REBECCA BUDIG), in their home in Sofia, Bulgaria. When he returns home right before Christmas, he finds the place ransacked and Leanne gone. He then gets a call from The Voice (voice of JON VOIGHT) who informs Brent that if he doesn't follow his every direction, he'll kill his wife.

The first is to steal a Shelby Cobra and lead the local police on a wild chase that endangers lots of people's lives. Due to cameras mounted inside and on the car and by using a GPS tracker, The Voice is able to know exactly where Brent is and what he's doing, all while occasionally giving him vocal commands via calls to the car's phone service. Things get more complicated when The Kid (SELENA GOMEZ) seemingly tries to carjack Brent at gunpoint. He's able to disarm her and The Voice instructs Brent that he must now take The Kid along with him.

From that point on and following additional commands that lead to new quests, Brent and The Kid form an unlikely and initially antagonistic partnership as they try to figure out who The Voice is and what he wants, all while hoping to keep Leanne alive.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
In today's attention deficit disorder movie world fueled by dazzling if briefly viewed images, quick edits, pounding soundtracks and the apparent inability of many a filmmaker as well as viewer to focus on anything more than a few seconds, it's a pleasure to see the good ol' single shot that lasts a minute or more in duration.

Such a scene exists in "Getaway," the action-thriller film starring Ethan Hawke as a former professional race car driver who's forced to drive all over the capital city of Bulgaria in a souped-up Shelby Cobra after his wife (Rebecca Budig) is kidnapped by a bad man. The latter orders the husband around via cellular calls to the car, while cameras in and out of the muscular vehicle allow the mastermind to see and hear what's occurring, all while a GPS device allows him to track the driver's every move.

At one point, director Courtney Solomon brings out that one long-shot as Hawke's character pursues the bad guys who have kidnapped the husband's unlikely young partner (Selena Gomez) and he's in hot pursuit. While the point of view footage appears to be have sped up a little, the low and wide camera angle on the pursuing car creates a mesmerizing, you are there experience, complete with "Look out!" moments as other vehicles cross the street, barely avoiding being hit by the chased and chaser.

It's undeniably the film's so-called "money shot." Unfortunately, it comes late in the film and stands on its own as the rest of the pic is filled with so many camera angles, edits and such that any sort of similar viewer experience is impossible for the film to deliver. It's like Solomon and editor Ryan Dufrene wanted to outdo anything edit-happy fellow filmmaker Tony Scott has ever offered. All of which is a shame, as that late in the film single shot sequence shows just how bad the rest of the film has been put together.

And that doesn't just apply to the visuals and pacing, as the script -- courtesy of Gregg Maxwell Parker and Sean Finegan -- leaves a lot to be desired. In short, it's a combination of elements lifted from "Speed," "Taken" and "Die Hard 3" that have been blended together but then lost their appetizing moments. Unlike the Keanu Reeves film, the villain watching his toyed pawn via cameras on the car feels old hat, not to mention the plot holes it introduces (the victims chat about their plans despite knowing the villain can see and hear them). Don't get me started on the surveillance loop tactic stolen from the Jan de Bont flick, or the fact that this offering doesn't have the fun rule (that the bus can't ever drop below 50 mph or it will blow up) that gave "Speed" its edge.

From "Taken," we have the family member who gets kidnapped and the patriarch has to get her back story angle. Yet, since we don't see the husband and wife together before the incident, we're only left with some flashback memories the protagonist sees, all of which are supposed to create more sympathy for him and his plight. Here, it feels like a cheap ploy and most viewers will only feel that way by default.

And finally, from "Die Hard 3" we have the villain who delights in toying with his prey, making him do all sorts of things while occasionally sending him on a quest. Alas, there are no riddles to be solved, so all we really have are moments where the antagonist orders the driver around, resulting in one car chase sequence after another where various police cars (that mysteriously can keep up with the supercharged Cobra) crash one after another. And the film's final reveal shot of the villain (which apparently is supposed to elicit some sort of reaction from viewers as he's played by a well-known veteran actor) does nothing but make you worry that the powers that be are already planning a sequel.

If that happens, one can only hope that Gomez is jettisoned from that future offering. She's supposed to be playing a rich tomboy type character who's into cars, computers and such and can keep up with the boys in terms of cussing, but it all feels fabricated and forced. And her chemistry with the usually reliable Hawke doesn't fare any better. He's okay in his role, but is severely limited by an awful script, ham-fisted direction, and an overzealous editor.

It would appear that the latter was on a lunch break when the late chase scene came through the editing bay. It's a shame he didn't call in sick for a day or two as the film could have vastly benefited from less edits and more exciting single shot sequences. Not to mention a better and more original script. If you've ever wondered whether it's true that late August is the dumping ground for bad movies, here's proof positive of that. The only thing you'll want to get away from is "Getaway." It rates as a 3 out of 10.




Reviewed August 27, 2013 / Posted August 30, 2013


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