In Sofia, Bulgaria, race car driver Brent (Ethan Hawke) is looking to lay low after his debts have piled high, only to find his wife kidnapped by a master criminal known as The Voice (Jon Voight), who's threatening to kill the woman. Forced to steal a car wired with surveillance equipment, Brent is let loose in the city, tasked with certain daredevil acts meant to deplete police resources. Along the way, bratty girl Kid (Selena Gomez) attempts to reclaim her pilfered automobile, only to be sucked into The Voice's scheme as well, soon joining forces with Brent to figure out a way to disrupt the evil scheme. Racing around Sofia all through the night, destroying a power plant and wrecking the Christmas spirit for pedestrians and commuters, Brent and Kid finally realize what The Voice is after, determined to turn the tables on their captor while keeping the driver's loved one alive.
In the opening five minutes of "Getaway," the details of the kidnapping are exposed and Brent commences his tire-burning rescue quest, panicking as he grasps the enormity and technological complexity of his punishment. Once the plot is established, there's no reason to finish out the feature, as nothing in the script by Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker even remotely comes close to paying off the initial burst of activity. The basics in glass-shattering, car-flinging stunt work are secured, and there's a hefty dose of growly, screamy Hawke reactions, but a consistent story? Not that I could find. Instead, "Getaway" launches into these easily escapable situations that depend on audience apathy to work, blindly editing the movie together in a manner that often doesn't make any sense at all.
To be fair to the screenplay, "Getaway" is directed by Courtney Solomon, the helmer of such turkeys as "Dungeons & Dragons" and "An American Haunting," making the airlessness of "Getaway" predictable, but disheartening. An inadequate action conductor, Solomon merely turns up the noise on the feature, using multiple cameras to capture Bulgarian police cars in banal smash-em-up situations, recycling ideas for Brent's demolition derby, keeping the chases mundane as they check off every cliché around (at one point, The Voice demands Brent rear-end a truck carrying water bottles, presumably just for the visual). The extent of Bulgarian automobile damage is unintentionally hilarious, with this never-ending supply of cop cars tearing through the city to find Brent, only to end up wrapped around a pole or flipped over. When it comes time to hash out a budget for 2014, perhaps the local police force should think about investing in spike strips. That has to be cheaper than sending 100 cars to catch one crook and his magically bottomless tank of gas.
Illogic is king in "Getaway," with questions piling up rapidly as Solomon blasts away with explosions and rapid-fire editing (he saves one extended stunt shot for the finale, but why?), hoping sheer spectacle will be enough to distract from the nonsense. If The Voice can see and presumably hear anything that goes on in the car, why do Brent and Kid openly debate ways to thwart his plan, and why doesn't The Voice do anything about it? There's also a question of Brent's moral compass, as the corrupted driver has no problem endangering the lives of countless Bulgarians, actually killing a few along the way, to save his teary wife. He's the hero, but not one that's above taking out a few innocents along the way. What a guy. The Kid's masterful tech knowhow is good for a few unintentional laughs, with the young women "hacking" The Voice's cameras via a simple touch of tangled wiring or through a few swipes on an iPad. She's a Geek Squad miracle worker.
This is an ugly film, though this is mostly a source issue and not the fault of Warner Brothers' 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. The choppy, sloppy editing and ugly shaky cam footage puts a damper on the proceedings, and the film as a whole appears kind of lifeless. There are splashes of bold colors around the city, and skin tones appear accurate. Detail is OK if not particularly impressive, and texture and clarity are adequate. Black levels are strong, thankfully, as most of the film takes place at night. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is fairly immersive and attempts to shake a little life into Getaway. The Mustang's engine rattles the subwoofer and fills the surrounds, and directional effects are frequent during the action sequences. Dialogue is crisp and clean and balanced appropriately with effects and score.
- Crash Cams: A look at how the crew placed the cameras to allow the audience to experience what it's like to be in a car crash
- Destroying a Custom Shelby: Exactly what the title suggests
- Metal and Asphalt: Cars and the people who love them
- Selena Gomez: Ms. Gomez takes us on a tour
- The Train Station: A break-down of the train station sequence
If the material established itself as fantasy from the get-go, much of "Getaway" could be forgiven. However, Solomon treats it all so seriously, rendering extended displays of absurdity torturous. Hawke and Gomez are woefully mismatched as co-stars, with the actress particularly void of credibility as a worldly computer wizard. They share no chemistry together, and often execute line readings with cue card-like hesitation. The object The Voice is after isn't worth the screen time it takes to set it up, leaving a gap where true stakes should rightfully be. There are also mistakes in editing and a few clearly reshot passages (Gomez's wig barely fits) that cause unnecessary distractions. "Getaway" is an awful picture -- gawky, moronic, and dull with a lackluster Blu-ray to top it off. Probably best to move on to something more worth your time.