You know how Hollywood car chases can sometimes be chaotic, loud, smashy, and too overbearing? Well, Getaway is about 90 minutes of that forced upon you through ADD-styled filmmaking, as we enter the driver’s seat of a souped up Shelby Super Snake Mustang in the very first scene, and we’re never let back out. The film might have been better titled “Courtney Solomon Shows Us How Many Ways He Can Flip A Car,” or “Try To Catch This Car Chasing Action While Your Head Spins,” or simply “Vroom Vroom, Bang Bang, Explosion Sounds, Let Me Out!” There’s often pleasure to be found in simplicity, especially concerning the action genre, but unfortunately this fast and furious thrill ride is much better at causing headaches, confusion, and unwanted laughs. F*ck it, get out of here, just drive!
Former racecar driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) comes home one day to find his wife abducted, as the destroyed Christmas decorations dictate a struggle, and is then contacted by a mysterious voice. He’s informed that if he ever wants to see his wife alive again, a game of sorts must be played. Parked in a garage somewhere is a tricked out vehicle, one that’s rigged with cameras and all sorts of technical equipment, and Brent is to get in and await further instructions. Early in his travels though, a young girl (Selena Gomez) attempts to rob the car, but gets involved in Brent’s situation herself. It’s up to the newly formed team to follow the mysterious voice’s every direction if they’re to get out of the car alive, but that proves to be quite the task once police get involved.
I’m not really sure where to start with Getaway, because I didn’t like very much of it, so let’s first focus on how quickly the novelty factor of car chases wears off on us. Depending on how much of a gear head you are, this timeframe will probably vary between audience members, but considering the boisterous, in-your-face levels each crash and chase surpasses, it’s hard not to feel we’re just beating a dead horse by backing over it, over, and over, and over again. Typically, action films will break up the action pacing and provide something different, even in a movie like Fast & Furious, and Getaway pretty much exemplifies why. There are only so many ways a high speed car chase can play out, no matter how many different angles you shoot it from, before each scene looks like a replication of the one before it.
Director Courtney Solomon does play with different filming techniques as well, jumping around the numerous surveillance cameras installed in the car along with typical fly-on-the-wall filmmaking, but the fury in which the camera switches back and forth becomes a head-spinning blur. Each point of view is utilized for literal seconds, as we zoom in and out on the faces of Gomez and Hawke in a way that even swipe-master Edgar Wright would frown upon. We’re bombarded with a flurry of visuals that are supposed to highlight the fast-paced nature of Brent Magna’s wild ride, but instead these methods are just dizzying and frustrating. Again, these methods are fine if used in moderation, but when you’re just trying to keep up with a billion different quick-cuts throughout an entire movie, well, it just becomes exhausting. I seriously felt like I needed a nap halfway through Getaway.
You’ve also got to chuckle at the technicality of Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker’s script, who pen Selena Gomez’s character as an uber-techie who can hack her way out of any situation. And by hack, of course I mean push two random buttons on a magical program that does everything for you, then hear her say “Well obviously I just jacked into the network port with my cybertron ultimate surfing knowledge and tripped the main security, granting me access to every encrypted file in the world.” Um, you pushed one button, really?
My favorite of course was watching Selena walk up to a camera that says “Locked” (or some variation of it), literally touch it for 2 seconds, then watch it go to “Public Streaming.” Right, that’s her hacking expertise. Essentially, Gomez was a wizard, who could just make things work with the push of a button or wave of her hand. Ah, technology.
Sorry, that may be a really bitchy complaint, but I can’t stand when a movie just presents a character trait with no build-up or explanation, then can’t even show the character properly in action. At least have Selena actually hacking something, as she attempts to do in the power plant. The other times, I have a really hard time believing she just happened to have a “Synch Video Loops To Evil Villain’s Security Camera Setup” app on her iPad, you know, just in case.
Even the things Hawke and Gomez say to each other seem a little dull, as the same lines are repeated numerous times and the same joke just keeps recurring. Sure, there’s really not much to talk about when you’re trapped in a car for an entire night, but their banter couldn’t have been any more cookie cutter, never establishing either character as someone noteworthy. I get that the focus was on action here, but man, this script really forgot every other aspect that makes up a film. I’d love to comment on Selena Gomez’s transition to the screen, but her character is so paper-thin, her presence is barely noticed.
Getaway is just a hideous car wreck that keeps playing out over and over again, kicking off a new chase every few minutes to engage the “excitement.” If watching a demolition derby at Ludicrous Speed sounds fun to you, please understand this is still absolutely nothing like that. Just imagine trying to keep up with the drifts, skids, collisions, and explosions – overwhelming right? You’ll be interested for the first five minutes or so, but after that expect a huge sigh of regret once you realize those five minutes are going to be replayed for the remaining eighty five. Hope you like watching cars flip for an hour and a half.