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Movie Review: “Getaway”

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In light of the news that rapper Eminem is releasing his eighth studio album – entitled “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” (or “MMLP2” for short) – on November 5th of this year – I must ask actor Ethan Hawke one question.

Won’t the real Ethan Hawke please stand up?

Because, Ethan Hawke sure makes some strange acting choices.

The star of the new action/thriller “Getaway” seems to either take a role in super-serious dramatic movies or… well… some not

Ethan Hawke plays Brent "Liquid Hot" Magna in "Getaway"

Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear. In this case, it’s a hawke… an Ethan Hawke.

-so-serious ones.

For example, earlier this year he acted opposite Julie Delpy in the third entry of Richard Linklater’s critically-acclaimed “Before” trilogy, “Before Midnight.” In fact, this series of  art house films is so revered by critics, that it received a 98% Tomatometer (critics) rating on rottentomatoes.com and is hailed as one of the best movies of 2013, so far. This, of course, followed the critical success of the first two films in the trilogy, 1995’s “Before Sunrise” (100 % rating) and 2004’s “Before Sunset” (95% rating).

These three triumphs were not the first time Hawke starred in a critical darling… or at least an attempt at a somewhat poignant film. The 1997 sci-fi melodrama “Gattaca” received an 82% Tomatometer score, as well as an equally good 82% score on the Audience meter. The same can be said for the 88% Tomatometer score for director Sidney Lumet’s 2007 slow burn thriller “Before the Devil Knows Your Dead.” I

n 1989, as a 19-year old actor in just his second feature-length film, Hawke starred in Peter Weir’s brilliant 1989 film “Dead Poets Society” (85% Tomatometer, 88% Audience). Three years later he starred in the World War II movie “A Midnight Clear” (88% Tomatometer) and in 2001 he took on one of the best roles of his career, opposite Denzel Washington, in “Training Day” (82% Audience Meter).

However, if you don’t put a lot of stock into the scores at rottentomatoes.com, the proof is in the shiny, brass statue. Hawke ended up securing a Best Supporting Actor Nomination, at the 2002 Oscars, for his performance as rookie Narcotics Officer Jake Hoyt. Meanwhile, his partner (story-wise and acting-wise) Washington won his only Best Actor award in five tries (he also won a Best Supporting Actor statue in 1990 for his role in “Glory”) for his portrayal of Hoyt’s bad-ass boss, Detective Alonzo Harris.

So why am I listing Ethan Hawke’s resume for the last 25 or so years? What does any of this have to do with his latest film “Getaway”?

I’m just trying to understand why Hawke chose to do it in the first place.

It seems that since the near Oscar win, Hawke has been, dare I say, slumming for the last decade or so. I mean, except for the aforementioned Linklater movies and “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” that is. Since 2001, he’s been in such clunkers as “Taking Lives” (22% Tomatometer), “Brooklyn’s Finest” (42%), and “The Purge” (38%). He’s also made some strange career moves, as far as choosing such genre pictures as the demonic horror movie “Sinister,” the underrated vampire flick “Daybreakers,” and the action-packed remake of “Assault on Precinct 13.” Throughout his flip-floppy resume, Hawke has switched from bad-to-good more often than a double agent.

Hawke’s latest, “Getaway,” (aka: the current movie in review) got a whopping 3% score on the Tomatometer, which means that

"Getaway" movie poster art.

Stylish. Sleek. Stale.

1 critic out of 37 found it to be “fresh.” Not the most ringing of endorsements.

However, these Tomatometer scores are not an exact science. I mean, 36 hate-filled, pessimistic, Debbie Downer, Negative Nancy critics MIGHT have gotten it wrong.

Ummmh…. nope, this time they got it right on the money.

This film is bad. Although, the production value isn’t, as it did cost almost $20 million to make. In fact, the sheer amount of work and technical prowess that went into this film is staggering… and pointless.

According to the film’s IMDb page, every single one of the car chases and crashes in this film are 100% real. In other words, no CGI was used. This is counting the 130 cars that were totaled during filming, which included some scenes where drivers were going anywhere from 55 to 70 mph.

Director Courtney Solomon’s (2005’s “An American Haunting” was his last film) intricate camerawork consisted of over 70 small, point-of-view cameras (called VIOS or “crash cams”), in order to capture the action. 28 7D cameras were attached to the hero car (which was one of 13 Shelby Super Snake Mustangs used in the film) at all times, in order to get a 360-degree view of the action in every scene. The movie (which was shot in the city streets of Sofia, Bulgaria) required somewhere around 6150 edits to finish it. The average film has around 1600 edits.

It’s just a shame that all of this technical work and careful planning went into “Getaway,” but nobody bothered to work on the actual script, which is one of the laziest screenplays (written by Sean Finnegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker) I’ve ever seen. During the 90-or-so minutes of tire-screeching action, about 85 of them are spent inside of an automobile. This means that the

Cars, cars, and more cars in "Getaway"

Somebody got a light?

scenery, no matter how many sharp turns are taken into back alleys or how many Bulgarian Police Cars were launched into semi-trucks, remains completely stagnant and immobile throughout 90% of the film. That’s not exactly the best way to keep an audience’s interest.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some moviegoers that might dig this movie. The two young males that were sitting behind were VERY MUCH into the crushing of metal and the deployment of airbags that occurred in nearly, every scene. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie rivals the success of such testosterone-filled, mindless action romps as “The Transporter” movies, “Drive Angry,” and the “Death Race” remake. At least, in terms of basic-cable views, anyway.

The thing is, a car chase in a movie is usually considered the icing on the cake. On some cakes, this icing is sweet and delicious. For example, in movies like “Ronin,” “Death Proof,” “Bulllit,” and “The French Connection” they all have sweet car chases; therefore, flavorful icing. However, what really “takes the cake” with these films is the plot and the storyline that lies beneath all those layers of sweetness.

Just to be clear, I’m still talking about car chases – not actual cake.

If this is the case, the icing, regarding a film like “Getaway,” maybe sweet to the palate, but it’s way too plentiful. It’s like 80%

Selena Gomez freaks out, while Ethan Hawke drives.

Anybody else in the mood for a bacon sandwich? What? No good?

icing and 20% cake… and the cake itself tastes like crap.

I know and I’m sorry. I’ll stop with the baked goods metaphors.

To put it in layman’s terms, “Getaway” has unbelievable car chase scenes, but little else. It’s not even close to the level that was achieved via “Fast & Furious 6” earlier this summer. That movie had exotic locales, twisting plot lines, shifting allegiances, death-defying stunts, and (for the most part) interesting characters. Don’t forget, all of these attributes formed the cake that was below the icing, which were the plethora of car chases that the film also had. Okay, now I’ll stop.

“Getaway” had zero of these attributes, to add on to its ridiculous amount of automobile-related stunt work.

The premise had something to do with this former racecar driver, Brent Magna (Hawke), who retired from the sport, due to the fact he was too reckless – talented, but reckless. After hanging up his driving gloves (or whatever racecar drivers hang up when they’re done), he used his talents to pursue more criminally-oriented endeavors, that all involved the use of a good driver. Of course, when Magna met the love of his life, Leanne (played by Rebecca Budig), he hung up his bad guy shoes (or whatever criminals hang up when they’re done) to settle down with her.

Not so fast, Mr. Magna.

One day, he comes home to see that his house is a mess, there is blood and broken glass all over, and his wife is missing. However, he does find a cell phone on the floor, next to the overturned Christmas tree, which starts ringing. He picks it up and

Gomez and Hawke are not smiling, but still on Candid Camera

I see you. If you don’t listen to me… well… then you’re going to wind up in (you guessed it) the ICU.

the person on the other end (played by a mostly unseen Jon Voight in a role simply called “The Voice”) starts to dole out spur-of-the-moment instructions, which Brent has to follow, to the letter, if he ever wants to see his wife alive again.

The first thing he must do is steal a “special car” (he’ll know it when he sees it) from a parking garage. The car just happens to be a souped-up, armor-plated Shelby Mustang (aka: a bad-ass whip), which is adorned with dozens of cameras, draped inside AND outside of the car, so “The Voice” can see what Brent is doing at all times.

In the beginning, this premise is actually kind of fun and exhilarating. The Voice makes Brent drive through a crowded park, then onto a crowded ice rink, then into a crowded mall, and then simply into a crowd. But, this kind of garishness gets old – fast.

That being said, the total amount of editing that is going on, from scene-to-scene, is simply astonishing… and at times, overwhelming. It’s just way too much cutting and jumping and jump-cutting. It’s confusing to watch. It’s like if Michael Bay had ADHD and was on a weeklong meth binge and tried to make another movie about cars. It’s utter chaos.

And eventually, it’s no fun to watch.

The plot doesn’t help either, which has something to do with causing a bunch of destruction and anarchy and robbing some bank out of billions of dollars of its currency. Former Disney child star Selena Gomez plays a rich, technophile, car lover simply named “The Kid,” that tries to steal back her Shelby from Brent (it was her car that he stole) by robbing him at gunpoint. This little plan backfires, as she has her gun taken from her and is forced in the car by Brent, who is then told to “bring her along.” Of course, there is a reason why The Voice wants The Kid to accompany The Driver during his escapades. However, I won’t tell you what that connection is. There has to be ONE plot twist, however cliche, that I can leave you with.

The ending, which is also as cliché as it gets, attempts to leave you with an open-ended conclusion  and really tries to make you

Selna Gomez is strapped and packin' in "Getaway"

I saved up hundreds of Fruity Pebbles box tops to get this gun. So, put your hands up. Pretty please.

care about the idea of a sequel. No such luck, however. Well, actually, I’ll bet the two dudes behind me would go and see “Getaway Part II.”

As far as Ethan Hawke is concerned, he should have looked at the script (all 5 pages of it) when he received it, made a note about the words “Getaway” written on the front of it, and considered it as advice… not the name of a potential film project.

So, I ask again: Won’t the real Ethan Hawke please stand up?

If only to get out of the frickin’ Shelby for a minute.

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