by Michael Walters
The Cantankerous Critic
If I had to describe “Getaway” in one word that word would be DUMB. This movie makes the Fast and Furious films seem like Shakespeare by comparison.
I’m no fan of Vin Diesel’s enduring franchise, but at least the last couple movies have had an ounce of bravado. This is a low-budget exploitation picture that is so low-budget it looks like it could have been put out by Roger Corman, or the folks at Cannon in the 1980′s. It never tries to be anything more than a late-summer time-killer, but it’s so sloppy and slapdash it’s borderline amateurish.
The setup is simple enough and confined to a compact one-night time-frame. Ethan Hawke is a former race car driver. He comes home to find his wife has been kidnapped. A strange voice on his phone tells him to get in a car and drive. He must perform a series of tasks before the night is through if he ever wants to see his wife alive again.
Along the way, he picks up an apparent carjacker (Selena Gomez) who is not who she seems to be, and the two of them race around the city, being chased by an entire police department full of cops who must have flunked driver’s ed.
The film doesn’t have time for character development. Actors merely appear on screen and then get moving. They’re barely given names, much less personalities.
And the whole thing takes place in Bulgaria for some reason. The script was obviously written as generic as possible, with characters tying themselves into verbal knots trying not to refer to any specific city, country, or place. I found my attention wandering, wondering why exactly they chose to shoot there. Was it that much cheaper? What kind of freebies does the Bulgaria film office hand out? Is Sly Stallone (who is improbably filming his third Expendables movie there) now selling the benefits of Bulgaria to other muscle-bound Hollywood motorheads?
Even by check-your-brain-at-the-door low-budget action spectacles, “Getaway” is one of the sloppiest studio films I’ve seen in recent memory. Cars appear with bulletholes before they’ve even been shot at. Bulletholes disappear and reappear from scene to scene. Hawke picks up one phone and then is seen talking on an entirely different one. The list goes on.
Thankfully, the movie doesn’t. It’s refreshingly old-school, with real cars getting really crashed during its trim 85 minutes. But this blockheaded bomb’s running on fumes the whole time.