Release Date: August 30, 2013
Rating: PG-13 for intense action, violence and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures, and language
Run Time: 90 min.
Director: Courtney Solomon
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight, Rebecca Budig
The resurgence of Ethan Hawke's career has been gratifying to watch. First garnering attention as a cocky, moody performer in Gen-X favorites like Dead Poets Society (1989) and Reality Bites (1994), the actor carved out an interesting career path, mixing lower-profile roles in independent films (Before Sunrise , Waking Life , Tape —all from director Richard Linklater), with larger-budget literary adaptations that didn’t find big audiences (Snow Falling on Cedars, The Newton Boys [another Linklater film], and director Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca). He even scored a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Training Day (2001).
Since that attention-grabbing performance, Hawke has stayed largely below the radar, either because bigger-budget films didn't pan out (Brooklyn's Finest, from Training Day director Anton Fuqua, had production trouble, and Niccol's Lord of War flopped) or acclaimed smaller films didn’t break out of the arthouse ghetto (cf. Before Sunset , the well reviewed sequel to Before Sunrise).
The seeds of Hawke's re-emergence might be traceable to a remake of John Carpenter's Assault of Precinct 13, a siege story in which Hawke's character had to fight off a group attack. That story isn't entirely dissimilar to this year's The Purge, in which Hawke fights off a roving gang that targets his family for death. The Purge was a big hit—the second in a row for Hawke, who starred in last year’s eerie Sinister, one of the best horror films in years. On top of those two commercial successes is Hawke's third film in Linklater's Before trilogy, Before Midnight, which has been a 2013 summer success story in limited release.
Hawke’s new film, Getaway, held promise. Yes, it looked like a cheap knockoff of Drive, and it was questionable whether Disney Channel star Selena Gomez (Ramona and Beezus) could pull off the tough-girl shtick seen in the movie's trailer. But Hawke has established himself as a reliable genre performer. Would his artistic instincts once again pay off?
Not hardly. Getaway has a preposterous premise and action scenes that make the audience feel like they’re playing a video game. Such an aesthetic might appeal to certain viewers, but most will struggle to determine the point of this 90-minute exercise in cheap thrills.
Former race car driver Brent Magna (Hawke) receives a phone call—the first of many from an ominously voiced villain (Jon Voight, National Treasure: Book of Secrets) who's had Magna's wife (Rebecca Budig) kidnapped in Bulgaria. Brent is ordered to do everything the man tells him to do; otherwise, his wife will be killed.
What does Brent’s tormenter demand? That he steal a car that’s been outfitted with video monitors—Brent’s every move will be monitored—and do everything he’s told, all at very high speeds. "Turn left" (onto a street crowded with people!). "Smash into everything you can." "Now go down the stairs."
A bewildered Brent performs all these maneuvers without killing anyone, then waits for further orders. While parked, a hooded, gun-toting girl (Gomez, billed here as "the kid") carjacks him and ends up going along for a very unanticipated ride with Brent at the wheel. Brent's interaction with the kid gives the film a bit of life. He explains his checkered past to her, and she briefly prays aloud, promising to be good if God lets her survive. But the kid mostly makes sarcastic remarks and tries to act tough. Good thing she likes "boy things" and can stay a step ahead of Brent and the story's villain.
Getaway is filled with constant action and car chases, but it's never engaging. Gomez’s baby face works against her bid to play a more mature role at this stage of her career, and Hawke has so little dialogue that his presence hardly qualifies as a performance.
It's is a thriller without thrills, a story without a point and a waste of 90 minutes. It’s not the electrifying action film it wants to be. Getaway may not be completely worthless, but at today’s admission prices, it’s highway robbery.
- Language/Profanity: Lord’s name taken in vain; “dam-it”; “s-it”; “a-sh-le”; “hell”; a middle finger extended
- Drinking/Smoking: None
- Sex/Nudity: Husband and wife kiss
- Violence/Crime: Quick images of a break-in and kidnapping; Brent is forced to steal a car, drive into crowds of people and avoid the police; his wife is held in a shabby cell, sometimes with a gun to her head; high-speed car chases, with several crashes and mass destruction; guns are pointed and fired; a carjacking at gunpoint; orders to kill a young girl; Brent tells the kid he lived a life of crime, but got out; a bank robbery
- Religion/Morals/Marriage: The kid prays, promising to be good if God lets her live; a woman says, "Thank God you're here"
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