Getaway: Film Review

Brainless chase flick doesn't even offer guilty pleasures.

Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez turn Sofia, Bulgaria into a city-sized car wreck.

Director Courtney Solomon wrecks scores of cars and one movie in Getaway, a pedal-to-metal flick only an out-of-work stuntman could love. Failing to understand that a chase scene is only exciting for those who care about someone, anyone, who's part of the action, the movie produces untold broken axles but no thrills. A quick exit from theaters is all but guaranteed.

Ethan Hawke plays former pro racecar driver Brent Magna -- could we maybe just let that tidbit serve as the entire review? -- who comes home one day to find his wife has been abducted. An anonymous older man (Jon Voight) calls, telling Brent that he'll never see his wife again unless he goes to a nearby garage, steal a souped-up Ford Mustang and await further instruction. The voice doesn't tell Brent he has to wear sunglasses in the parking garage. Brent does this for free.

Soon Brent's being made to drive willy-nilly through traffic, deliberately causing wrecks all around him. Then he's forced to speed straight through parks full of pedestrians, down steep stairways, into power plants that erupt into flames. Little cameras mounted in and all over the car document his compliance, recording every police cruiser that corkscrews through the air in his wake. "Smash into everything you can," he's told at one point. We never learn the mystery kidnapper's name, but it's pretty clear he's Michael Bay.

Hope you like the lower third of Jon Voight's unshaven face, because you're going to see it from every conceivable angle as Solomon cuts between the man giving orders and the driver angrily complying. If you were tearing through the streets on an artificial deadline while your disembodied master found five different ways to say "you're running out of time!" in the space of a minute, you'd be angry too. (Or maybe it's Hawke himself who's angry, knowing he has to spend another nine years cranking out this genre junk before it's time for another Before Sunrise sequel.)

Early on, Brent is carjacked by The Kid (Selena Gomez), a gun-toting gearhead; it turns out this is her car, which was stolen and retrofitted with armor plating and all those cameras. Mystery Man tells Brent to kill the girl. He refuses, which turns out to be smart: Though she's a pain in the neck, she's some kind of computer genius as well, and soon uses her iPad to control MM's camera system. Need to hack into an unfamiliar, high-security communications network with fewer taps than it takes to add Selena Gomez to your playlist? Evidently there's an app for that.

The Kid is also smart enough to invent -- out of thin air, really -- the motivation for the string of random high-speed chase missions Brent is being assigned. Unfortunately, her logical insights only stretch so far: When their car is being closely tailed down a long, narrow ramp by machine-gun-toting motorcyclists doing 100 mph, she doesn't point out that Brent could slam his brakes and put an end to all his problems.

Baby-faced Gomez is completely out of place as the tough-little-rich-kid, though she does earn the film's biggest laugh, scornfully telling Brent "you clearly haven't thought this through" at one of the many moments where viewers are thinking the same thing about screenwriters Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker. She and Hawke have no chemistry, which you'd think might hobble a film in which they're locked in a car together for around 70 minutes. But Getaway seems built for non-English speaking territories in which dialogue is as disposable as Bulgarian police cars. If only those audiences were as dumb as the action itself.

Production Company: After Dark Films
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight, Rebecca Budig, Bruce Payne, Paul Freeman
Director: Courtney Solomon
Screenwriters: Sean Finegan, Gregg Maxwell Parker
Producers: Courtney Solomon, Allan Zeman, Moshe Diamant, Christopher Milburn
Executive producers: Julius R. Nasso, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Robert Jones, Bobby Ranghelov, Jon Goodman, Dennis L. Pelino, Claudia Bluemhuber, Ian Hutchinson, Joel Silver, Steve Richards
Director of photography: Yaron Levy
Production designer: Nate Jones
Music: Justin Burnett
Costume designer: Roseanne Fiedler
Editor: Ryan Dufrene
PG-13, 87 minutes