With Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight, Rebecca Budig, Paul Freeman. Written by Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker. Directed by Courtney Solomon. Rated PG-13 for intense action, violence and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures, and language. 90 minutes.
“All About Steve.” “Shanghai Surprise.” “Apollo 18.” “The Sound of Thunder.” “Smokey and the Bandit, Part III.” What do these movies have in common besides being candidates for among the worst movies ever made? They opened on Labor Day Weekend. As the start-of-the-summer movie has crept back over the years–from June to Memorial Day weekend, to the whole month of May, and now into April–the dividing line between summer and fall has remained unchanged. As far as Hollywood is concerned, this is the time to dump losers, make some quick bucks with a horror movie that won’t play more than two weeks, and otherwise prepare for the mixture of Oscar bait and seasonally themed fare that will fill the calendar for the remaining third of the year.
Which bring us to GETAWAY, clearly one of the worst films of 2013. Ironically, the summer kicked off with “Fast & Furious 6” which entertained audiences and wowed critics with car chases, amazing stunt work, and surprisingly complex characters for an entry in action film series. “Getaway” is the complete opposite: the car chases are dull, the stunt work isn’t very interesting, and the characters would have to be fleshed out to become cardboard figures.
Ethan Hawke––who also stars in one of the year’s best movies, “Before Midnight”––sleepwalks through the part of Brent Magna, an ex-race car driver who is now living in Sofia, Bulgaria. We’re told it’s because that’s where his wife (Rebecca Budig) is from but don’t let that fool you. It’s because that’s where they could shoot a movie consisting of little more than car crashes on the cheap.
With no preparation, we’re thrown into the story. Brent comes home and finds that his wife has been kidnapped. A voice on the phone (one-time Oscar winner Jon Voight hitting yet another career low) informs him that if he is to save his wife he must steal a car and perform a series of tasks. The car, a custom-built Shelby Super Snake Mustang, gives the film’s best performance. We get loving close-ups of pedals being pressed and gears being shifted, perhaps in the hopes that we won’t notice the threadbare script or the wooden performances.
Keeping Hawke company for most of the film’s interminable 90 minutes is Selena Gomez, who first seems ready to steal the car but then we learn her story and quickly lose interest in both her and her character. As they race around Sofia, crashing into things and causing numerous police cars to flip over, they try to figure out what the goal of it all is. When you find out, you not only won’t care, but you’ll have other questions: Just how much driving can be done in this car without refueling? Why can’t the bad guys hit a car with a rocket launcher but Brent can blow up an entire train depot with a single bullet? Why go through the bother of taking out a power station if most of the city not only keeps its power but even the McDonald’s in downtown Sofia remains fully lit?
In short, “Getaway” is a total waste of time, money, and effort by all concerned. When at the end there is an implication that the story could continue it may elicit the film’s biggest gasp from the audience, most of whom will be wondering if they can get their time or money back. The answer to that is the same as the answer to the question as to whether you should see “Getaway”: No.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His first novel, Shh! It’s A Secret: A Novel About Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide has just been released. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.