By Gary Murray
Starring Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and Jon Voight
Written by Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker
Directed by Courtney Solomon
Running time 90 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Cable
Perhaps the greatest car chase that has ever been filmed is in The French Connection. It was a cop/drug dealer flick that concluded with a manic race around the roads and overhead train posts of NYC. No one had ever seen something so different and exciting. Since then, it seems that some film-maker tries to recreate that excitement for a new generation. The latest to attempt it is Courtney Solomon and that film is Getaway.
Not to be confused with Sam Peckinpah’s 1972 epic The Getaway or the 1994 re-make, this is an original story. The tale is of Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke). It is Christmas and as he comes into his house, he finds that it is ransacked and his wife is missing. Then there is a phone call.
The mysterious voice on the line (Jon Voight) tells him if he ever wants to see his wife alive, Brent must do whatever the voice tells him to do. First he must steal a car from a parking lot and he will know exactly what car it is.
Immediately, he goes to the parking garage and in the lot is a 2009 Shelby Super Snake Cobra. He takes the car and is off, speeding through the streets and causing havoc. The 90 minute film is almost an end-to-end car chase through the streets.
Within a few minutes, a female passenger with a gun (Selena Gomez) jumps in the vehicle. She demands that he get out of the car and the voice demands Brent kill her. Brent may be many things but he is not a killer and refuses.
Very soon, we find that the car belongs to the girl. She has a father who runs an investment bank and is a lot smarter than most teenage kids. The young lady is very savvy about computers and the internet.
As the two drive around causing massive collisions, they begin to put together the why to the reason they are both in a speeding car, causing wrecks. It is all part of a massive plot to take something from the bank. So the two must figure out a way to foil the plot and convince the chasing cops that the two are innocent. Along the way, there are car wrecks upon more wrecks.
There hasn’t been this much destruction of automotive steel since The Blues Brothers. The film becomes a melee of devastation, a virtual orgy of mangled car parts. At times it becomes more than a little redundant when one sees crash after crash. Half as many destroyed cars would have been a more realistic effort.
Ethan Hawke is a great actor but there is little for him to do other than look pensive and drive. About 90% of this role is in the driver’s seat of an auto. One expects more from the man in an action movie. This is a tale of a man obsessed, a former driver who must be tested to his limits.
Easily the worst element of the film is Selena Gomez. She is a very pretty young woman but woefully miscast in the role as the kid (that is what she is called in the film—no name). No one believes one moment of her acting. It is more like when a high school kid has to play an adult in a student production. As a debut into more adult acting features, she is a bit out of her league.
The true star of the film is the 2009 Shelby Super Snake Mustang. This is a magnificent machine and it looks perfect on screen. The engine roars like a lion and flies like an eagle. As the movie splays across the screen, every member of the audience falls in love with the car and wishes they were behind the wheel.
I will give Courtney Solomon some praises as a director. Toward the end of the film, as the sun is rising, there is the big ending car chase. It is basically a single shot through the early morning with vehicles zipping by at a breath-neck pace. It is a lyrical and poetic while still being action-filled. The film needed more of those moments.
The problem is that the director just doesn’t have that much to work with. Two actors in a car for 90 minutes gets a bit dull after awhile and the production finds few ways to make it interesting. There needed to be more than just a bunch of driving around.
Getaway is meant for all those who love The Fast and Furious series of films, but it is just not in that league. It is a typical late summer release, something to catch those last few dollars from the kids before they start saving up for the homecoming dance.