So here’s the story of “Getaway”: For a little under 90 minutes —thank the gods of cinema for that shot running time — Ethan Hawke, later joined by a baby-faced Selena Gomez, tools around Sofia, Bulgaria, in a souped-up Ford Mustang, wrecking as many vehicles and city landscapes as a single indestructible car can.
That’s it. No plot as you and I understand it. And what little plot that does exist makes little sense.
The movie is almost entirely an exercise in car racing, destruction, keeping stunt drivers gainfully employed and, you hope, increasing the gross national product of a country apparently willing — or perhaps needing — to let an international movie crew treat its capital like a backlot put to flame.
A film critic has little role here. What’s to assess? How the stunts look?
Well, now that you mention it, they’re pretty mediocre.
Most sequences go like this: The Mustang roars down a dimly lit nighttime street. Police cars pursue. Quick shots inside the car and out to disorient the most careful viewer. A close shot of Hawke or Gomez gasping, then a pursuing car launches into the air and turns over or crashes on top of another car. Often with a camera placed at the point of maximum destruction.
There’s a sameness here. Plus you have no idea what propels most of the cars into the air since cars aren’t designed to fly.
Why is this happening? Well, in the script blamed on — sorry, written by — Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker, Hawke comes home one Christmas season evening to find his flat trashed, wife missing and a ringing mobile phone that, when answered, features a voice on the other end telling him his kidnapped wife will die unless he follows instructions.
Along the way Gomez jumps into the Mustang, which she claims is hers, and after the usual antipathy that occurs in all poorly written buddy movies, her savvy with an iPad and knowledge of the car helps save their asses.
Good question other than the tax breaks, etc. Clearly an American film was adapted to a location that really can’t pass for USA but no one bothered to do the actual adaptation. So there’s no explanation why in a Eastern European city everyone speaks only English with Yank accents.
Acting? Well, you hope Hawke got a huge payday for this job to make up for the no doubt low-paying mumblecore trilogy with Julie Delpy — you know, those “Before/After Midnight/Dawn” films. The same goes for Gomez, who actually shows some spunk here, and Jon Voight, seen only in disgusting extreme closeups of his mouth nibbling food, slopping down liquor and muttering orders to the frantic driver via a telephone hookup from God knows where.
Talk about phoning in your performance …
Oh, I nearly forgot: The director is Courtney Solomon. I use the job description advisedly since stunt coordination is all I saw.
I’d like to report a happy ending to all this nonsense, clearly aimed at international territories and not English-speaking markets. Alas, the filmmakers seem at the last moment to reach for Significance. It’s misguided, of course, but raises the question: Is there no integrity in schlock filmmaking anymore?
Opens: August 30, 2013 (Warner Bros.)
Production Company: After Dark Films
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight, Rebecca Budig, Bruce Payne, Paul Freeman
Director: Courtney Solomon
Screenwriters: Sean Finegan, Gregg Maxwell Parker
Producers: Courtney Solomon, Allan Zeman, Moshe Diamant, Christopher Milburn
Executive producers: Julius R. Nasso, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Robert Jones, Bobby Ranghelov, Jon Goodman, Dennis L. Pelino, Claudia Bluemhuber, Ian Hutchinson, Joel Silver, Steve Richards
Director of photography: Yaron Levy
Production designer: Nate Jones
Music: Justin Burnett
Costume designer: Roseanne Fiedler
Editor: Ryan Dufrene
PG-13 rating, 87 minutes