A funny thing happened on the way to the keyboard. It was brought to this writer’s attention that Getaway stalled at 0% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer. There were 55 negative reviews and zero favorable.
Two things instantly came to mind. There was an incident – perhaps a couple years ago – when Roger Ebert kind of picked a fight with another critic during one of his reviews. Granted, the memory’s foggy on the details, but it stuck out as uncharacteristic of Ebert. The other thing that came to mind was Premium Rush; it was released almost exactly one year ago and this critic called it a dud, with Michael Shannon hamming it up as an antagonist who seemed to be a cross between Travis Bickle and David Letterman, but it went on to score a whopping 76% on the Tomatometer.
It all ties together with one notion: This writer doesn’t give a gallon of gas what other critics espouse. That’s how the marketplace of ideas remains lively and vital. What follows is one person’s view, untainted by buzz, either positive or negative, social media and peer pressure. It’s informed by one simple thing: The screening of Getaway followed on the heels of a particularly stressful – personally stressful – 10 days and this critic was tickled to see somebody else, in this case Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke, Gattaca), have it just a little bit worse.
PG-13 for intense action, violence and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures, and language
Make no mistake. Getaway isn’t groundbreaking and it’s not the greatest motion picture in the history of motion pictures, but it is 90 minutes of no-frames-wasted action. Think of it as the love child of Taken (Liam Neeson) and Frantic (Harrison Ford), spliced and diced to yield Ethan Hawke switching gears as a former race car driver caught in a deadly mystery.
Brent’s wife has been taken hostage and an unknown caller instructs Brent to steal a super-duper Shelby Super Snake then perform a series of tasks in order to get his wife back. Throw in a second pawn, a street smart and cyber savvy girl played by none other than Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers), and the board is set. If Brent calls the cops or gets caught, his wife dies. She also dies if he lets the girl leave. There is any number of scenarios in which Mrs. Magna meets a bitter end and it all plays into Brent’s ongoing crisis of confidence.
Brent careens through the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria, and crashes through a crowded Christmas market and a popular outdoor ice rink, all with a stunning lack of onscreen carnage. This is, after all, PG-13 action.
The other tasks feature similar mayhem involving loads of police cars in pursuit and public peril.
Is it plausible? Come on. Of course not. Does it have to be? No. After all, what are the odds of a Premium Rush unfolding in reality? Maybe only ever so slightly – to an insignificant degree – more than the nonsense in Getaway.
It’s already been said. Getaway isn’t the greatest movie ever made, but it is a hoot if taken for what it is.
Hawke is in fine form – much like Ford and Neeson – as a weary, perpetually challenged man stuck in a strange situation in a foreign land. And give Selena Gomez some credit; she’s now 21 and still sporting baby fat cheeks, but she can spout out techie jargon with a fair amount of credibility. Granted, it’s hard to fathom how a girl so young would be so knowledgeable about cars, guns and computers, but the end result is pretty much any teenage boy’s dream come true.
The engine keeps running from start to finish, throwing in those obligatory moments of character development, generating a pleasant level of tension for those who’ve spent their own previous week in a pressure cooker. One particular highlight in terms of the action is an excellent extended single shot in the climactic chase, viewed from a hoodcam; it’s quite fun to watch the choreography as the Shelby darts through intersections with passing traffic steering clear of close calls.
As for the heavy behind all the madness, he’s an odd concoction of a character performed in part by Paul Freeman (Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark) and Jon Voight (National Treasure).
The payload driving this madman’s elaborate shenanigans is disappointing; it simply doesn’t seem worthy of the extensive complexities required to pull off the ridiculously intricate escape plan. But here’s the kicker. There’s a payoff for the character of Brent Magna. It’s not explained until the final frames, but it’s a nice coda for the character and the rationale behind his being selected for the mission. It’s a cool note for the movie to end on, although it serves as a setup for a sequel – or a slew of sequels – that now seem most certain to never leave the garage given that venomous 0% Tomatometer.
Oh, wait. Now it’s at 1%.