* (out of 5)
August 30, 2013
Ethan Hawke as BRENT MAGNA
Selena Gomez as THE KID
Jon Voight as THE VOICE
Rebecca Budig as LEANNE
Paul Freeman as THE MAN
Bruce Payne as DISTINGUISHED MAN
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Courtney Solomon
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Sometimes it is both hilarious and pathetic to watch Hollywood try to get its own formula right, only to fail in a giant fireball of suck. For as much as people say that the system just cranks out blockbusters based on a simple character-and-plot rubric, there’s a lot more to generating a hit, and movies like “Getaway” prove it.
At first blanche, the movie looks like it might be the angry love child of “Taken” and “The Transporter,” simply from the premise and advertising. Ethan Hawke stars as a former race car driver (with the obvious “special skill set” that comes along with it) whose wife has been kidnapped. He receives a call on his cell phone from the kidnappers, telling him to do whatever they say or they will kill the wife. This entails driving an armored, tricked-out car through the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria, like a madman with no concern for human life aside from his wife’s.
Along the way, he picks up a would-be carjacker, played by Selena Gomez, who turns out to be a weird amalgamation of a street rat, an uber-rich kid, a genius computer hacker and a reject from the Apple Genius Bar who has smart phones and iPads stashed in every hammerspace corner you can think of. Basically, she’s Alicia Silverstone from “Batman & Robin” without the rubber suit and faux nipples.
Gomez is woefully miscast in this film. She’s never been a fantastic actor, but when she plays a version of Alex from “Wizards of Waverly Place” (as she basically did in “Spring Breakers” earlier this year), she’s fine. It’s when she tries to play outside of the box and have a edgier voice, including dropping quite a few “shits” in her dialogue and even flipping the bird to another driver in the film, she’s so laughably bad that Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMAs is only the second-most-awkward performance by a former Disney star this week.
The writing of this movie is dumbed down to the lowest degree, to the point of having continuous flashbacks remind the audience that the wife has been kidnapped. It even goes as far to have a scene in which Hawke’s character literally narrates a recap of what happened to him at the very beginning of the movie (from, like, 40 minutes ago). None of this is new information, and it only seems to exist to pad out the running time a bit. It’s either that, or the filmmakers had such little faith that an audience would show up on time for the film that they threw in this soap-opera redundancy just in case you missed the first fifteen minutes.
All of this explanation is unnecessary because if you have even the slightest level of cognition, the entire story collapses. After the film was over, I was speaking with a critic friend of mine, and I asked him why it was necessary to kidnap the wife and force Hawke’s character to drive the car at all. I won’t venture into spoilers, but when you look back at the film, there’s not a single thing that any of the protagonists in this film did that actually needed to happen for the bad guys to pull off their plan.
I was accused of overthinking things, which I tend to do at times. However, this movie was such a mess that mere passing thoughts would poke holes into not just the plot but the underlying concept of the movie.
I should not have expected even coherency from the director of “An American Haunting” and “Dungeons & Dragons,” but I did, and the fault lies with me I suppose.
Sigh… such is the case for a Labor Day release, a time of the year when we get films like “Gamer” and “All About Steve.” It makes me long for the days when Nicolas Cage would star in a Labor Day movie, and at least there’d be some entertainment value in that. While Ethan Hawke has made some fun choices with his movies recently (including the excellent “Sinister” last year and even the not-so-great “The Purge” earlier this year), this movie serves only as a paycheck for him and a chance to zip around Bulgaria in a wicked-cool Shelby Cobra.