Judge Clark Douglas is driving away from this dud.
Get in. Get out. Getaway.
I've always been a little puzzled by the career of Ethan Hawke. He's clearly a gifted, serious-minded actor, and he's done tremendous work in ambitious films ranging from Hamlet to Gattaca to Before Sunrise / Before Sunset / Before Midnight. However, between his more artful projects, Hawke has been willing to take on the most dire of Hollywood blockbusters, slumming his way through the likes of Taking Lives, The Purge and the remake of Assault on Precinct 13. Unfortunately, it's very possible that Getaway is the worst film of Hawke's career to date. Say what you will about those other aforementioned stinkers; at least they were trying to do something intriguing. Getaway, on the other hand, feels about as lazily-assembled as any mainstream movie I've seen in recent times.
The film doesn't waste any time on set-up, jumping right into its central conflict in the opening minutes. Hawke plays Brent Magna, a former professional race car driver whose wife has just been kidnapped. He receives a call from an unknown man, who has provided Brent with a vehicle. Brent is to drive wherever the man tells him to—at whatever speed the man tells him to—or his wife will be killed. Brent does his best to follow the mystery man's instructions, though his task gets messier when he finds himself partnered with a young woman (Selena Gomez, Spring Breakers), who happens to be the vehicle's previous owner.
Honestly, though, none of the actors matter all that much, because none of the characters are ever developed in any significant way and they're never really asked to do any real acting (to Hawke's credit, he looks convincingly distressed every time the camera observes him). The film is nothing more than a feature-length car chase, which would be fine if the car chase were well-handled, but…well, to say that the action is less than compelling would be an understatement. Getaway offers incomprehensible action editing that attempts to suggest thrilling chaos simply by tossing a lot of cuts, crashes and noisy sound design together. Alas, much of the time the chases make little visual sense, and there's never a moment convincingly suspenseful or slickly-crafted enough to get your pulse racing. Sometimes it takes a film like this to help remind us how valuable an underappreciated action director like Justin Lin really is.
Between the bland action, a paper-thin (yet somehow occasionally incomprehensible) plot and one-dimensional characters, there's essentially nothing of value to cling to in this flick. The only surprise it offers is the closing credits reveal of the voice actor playing the film's mystery man. It sounds like a European actor—Rade Serbedzija, maybe?—but it turns out to be a considerably less exotic figure. Most of the reviews of the film freely spoiled this particular actor's identity, but I'll let you consult IMDb if you're really curious.
Getaway (Blu-ray) has received a fine 1080p/2.40:1 transfer that highlights the film's drab, overcast cinematography. The level of detail and depth is strong throughout, at least, and you can see every scratch Hawke's car accrues over the course of the film. Flesh tones are natural, and blacks are fairly inky. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track is certainly noisy enough, delivering an endless dose of crunching metal, grungy synthetic squawks and squealing tires. Dialogue is crystal clear throughout. Supplements are limited to five one-minute featurettes ("Crash Cams," "Destroying a Custom Shelby," "Metal & Asphalt," "Selena Gomez on Set" and "The Train Set"), a trailer and a digital copy.
I wish I could report that Getaway offers some fun, or at least some dumb fun, or at least a mildly interesting way to pass the time, but no such luck. One of 2013's dullest films.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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