Remember the good ole’ 80’s up till to the early 90’s? Action films were often seen as ‘escapist entertainment’; meaning that such films had a paper thin plot, and the spectacle of the action sequences were allowed to wash over its audience. I know, such things were a mere excuse to make a quick buck, but there were some that proved rather entertaining. Well, director Courtney Solomon, fresh from his recent flick “Bullet to the Head” appears to be a fan of such films. The film has a pretty uninspired plot, with very shallow characterization; but I guess it is to be expected since the star of the flick is the car itself.
Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke, Sinister) is a former race car driver who also has a checkered past; that he used to take whatever job he can using his crazy driving skills until he met the woman who changed his life. Now, with the life of his wife ((Rebecca Budig) at stake, Brent is pitted against the clock in the most important race of his life. An unseen criminal (voiced by Jon Voight) holds his wife captive, and he must perform tasks assigned to him to get her back. Equipped with the ultimate muscle car, a Ford Shelby GT500 Super-Snake and with a tech-savvy young passenger (Selena Gomez), Brent sets out on a dangerous high-speed chase to rescue his beloved.
The plot in “Getaway” is pedestrian and paper thin. The screenplay offers up a very predictable and unimaginative devices to generate a feeling of “Gone in Sixty Seconds” colliding with the “Youtube” generation. It is a brainless action flick that one would do well to check his brain at the door. This is not a film designed to make one think, as the film from its opening act just become flooded with sequential chase sequences. The film is a heist flick, and really, not a very good one at its core. I know movies don’t have to be intelligent to entertain, and the direction by Solomon does not pretend that he is even trying to be as such.
I suppose if there was one area of the film that I appreciated was that the film had no CGI in the car chases. This was an old-fashioned action flick built around car chases, and Solomon definitely expressed his love for raw, high-octane stunts. Much of the film’s feeling of light suspense came from the car chases, as Brent goes forth into one task after the other. The action and the stunt work involved a lot of cars, the use of actual city streets and a whole lot of editing. I would have loved such an action film that did not use any CGI, but I had some issues with the film’s editing. The footage of the car chases come in the form of several ‘first person’ camerawork (seen from the Mustang’s point of view), traffic and security cameras and the usual conventional camera work. I suppose the direction wanted to do something different and it wanted to mimic a sense of authenticity, but this is where the direction failed; most of the chases had the potential to be thrilling, but the incoherent editing made the chase scenes seem to wallow in style and over-editing. It would’ve been a wise move to have kept the shots at a distance, just so the viewer could take in most of the action.
The direction keeps as the brisk pace as it made the Ford Shelby GT500 Super-Snake the main character in the film. I mean, the car has a very intimidating design, and the roar of its engines may be enough to excite the male testosterone. The car was designed in a way that it mimicked the look of “Eleanor” in “Gone in Sixty Seconds” and this gave me a sense of nostalgia. Solomon had proclaimed his love for such films as “Bullitt” and he capitalizes on his need to create the city as part of the chase sequences. Ethan Hawke makes do with whatever he could in the weaknesses of the script. His character was developed as long as the car chases went on, then some details to him would be revealed. Selena Gomez was hopelessly miscast as the ‘passenger’. I know, her supporting role was actually the one that ruined the film for me; 1) no kid would be able to handle a muscle car such as the Shelby (well, at least she could not sell that idea to me). 2) she proved annoying the more I got into the second act. 3) her character also opens up a huge plot hole. Voight was acceptable as the ‘voice’; his performance created the right tension in the scenes even when the dialogue became rather obligatory.
The cinematography had that grainy style just so Solomon could give it a gritty atmosphere. This was a film that is set within a car with dozens of cameras looking in and out. Solomon was able to replicate that feeling of claustrophobia, but he struggled to sustain it since demands of the script required the characters to be out of the car no matter what you try to do. I do have to admit that the shots were decent in the crash scenes, as it was easy to feel the power and impact of the crashes. Solomon should’ve also paid more attention to detail and the set pieces, since despite the police cars and vehicles, it was rather hard to buy into the fact that the story was occurring in Bulgaria (really was it?!).
Solomon had the right intentions; I mean I love car movies and his dedication to old-fashioned stunts and car chases would’ve been enough to make this movie a ‘guilty pleasure’. But Solomon just notoriously made the fast pace to create thrills, that he forgot to stick to the rules of coherent editing and character development so his viewers could be invested. I can accept a routine screenplay, but the obligatory dialogue did not help its rather cheap climax. The final scene was too anti-climactic and any action movie needs a strong grand finale. Still, that Ford Shelby GT500 Super-Snake was a monster and as much as the film was dangerously close to over-editing, it did have its moments of thrills in the car chases. “Getaway” requires minimal use of the brain and an ability to suspend disbelief. Hey, “Eleanor-2013” was pretty sick and really the car is the star. Skip this one, but it may be aRental for action junkies. [2 Out of 5 Stars]
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