(by Dustin Putman
There are plenty of drinking games that could be had while watching "Getaway." Take a drink every time someone says any variation on the word "shit," and you'll be drunk within five minutes of Selena Gomez's (2013's "Spring Breakers") first appearance. Take a drink every time a police car crashes, and you'll be dead from alcohol poisoning by the 45-minute mark. One thing is for sure: once this movie gets done with them, there cannot possibly be more than one or two cops left alive in all of Bulgaria. Revved up to a permanently high octane, "Getaway" is an auto-centric action-thriller so relentless it makes "Fast and Furious 6" look like "Driving Miss Daisy." Directed by Courtney Solomon (2006's "An American Haunting") and written by Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker with an ill-fitting PG-13 target in mind, the film cuts corners to deliver a teen-friendly rating, but doesn't concern itself ninety percent of the time with coherent action choreography. Cut very, very fast—the movie's production notes seem to pride themselves on the fact that there are 6,150 edits vs. the average feature's 1,600—Ryan Dufrene's editing sometimes makes it difficult to figure out what is happening and which cars are being crashed, flipped over and blown up. The bottom line is there is a heaping helping of destruction on hand, but it's hard to be too critical when a film dares to be as preposterous yet flashy as this one. Article continues below
When his wife (Rebecca Budig) is kidnapped, retired car racer Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) is contacted by the mastermind behind her abduction. Brent doesn't know what the guy wants, but he's willing to do whatever he demands in hopes of keeping his spouse alive. Forced to steal a car hooked up with a built-in GPS/phone system, microphones and cameras, Brent is off and driving, asked to defy all the rules of the road while leaving plenty of busted-up metal in his wake. The stakes are further raised with the appearance of a testy 18-year-old girl (Selena Gomez) who claims he's driving her stolen car. Even after she passingly mentions that her daddy is a bank CEO, it takes them a seriously long time to figure out it is no accident they have crossed paths.
With the exception of two or three time-outs for "getting-to-know-you" chit-chat, "Getaway" rarely ceases its onslaught of road carnage and automobile chases. Depending on one's taste, it will either wear the viewer out or please him or her beyond belief. Either way, it won't be called slow-paced anytime soon. As ADD-riddled as it is, there is one great scene that stands so far above the rest it suggests what a better movie it could have been under different circumstances. A single, unbroken extended shot following the bad guys' van down a busy city street as it weaves in and out of traffic and runs through intersections, this scene is a rousing, stripped-down, no doubt complicated technical feat. The rest of the picture is pert but a test of one's disbelief. As much as Brent's car is shot at, it just keeps on truckin'. Does no one realize it might be effective to aim for the tires?
Ethan Hawke has had a welcome career resurgence in recent years. It's not that he ever stopped working, but he's been choosing a collection of commercially viable genre film, including 2012's "Sinister" and 2013's "The Purge," that have become unanticipated box-office hits. If those aforementioned efforts prided themselves with underlying thematic layers, this one is on unenlightening cruise control. Hawke exceeds the requirements of an underwritten part and commands attention through every dim-bulb demand of the script. As the strong-willed—in this case, read: motormouthed—young lady who gets wrapped up in the game, Selena Gomez gives a shrill, unconvincing performance that has her mostly reacting to Brent's reckless driving. There is little nuance to what she does, her inability to turn things down a notch now and again getting old very quickly. As impressive as her turn was in "Spring Breakers," Gomez is equally miscast here.
Predictable but mildly diverting when Gomez isn't grating on the nerves, "Getaway" turns the Bulgarian city of Sofia into a fiery wasteland full of totaled cars, the overheated power plant in one explosive sequence causing a city-wide blackout. Where all of this is going is obvious, the audience always one step ahead of the characters, until a reveal of the villain's motive in the well-shot final scene that is either exceptionally silly or more logical than originally meets the eye. Regardless, the film's few reprieves aren't enough to make it more than a slick but junky distraction. Those expecting to walk away with something to grab hold of and think about would do best to get away from "Getaway."