If the title ended in an exclamation point, this movie’s very title would be a warning.
“Getaway,” which is nothing so much as an hour-and-a-half car chase, is preposterously silly, a fizzle of a finale for a summer that included eye-popping blockbusters and Academy Award-worthy dramas.
The concept is a simple one: Ethan Hawke is driving a doomed Cobra (on which the director fixates from time to time, from its glorious, iconic emblem to its “Cobra” interior) like the proverbial bat out of Hades. It’s not just for fun that Hawke’s character, Brett Magna, is dispatching squad cars and barricades willy-nilly. It’s to save the life of his wife, who is being held hostage by an unseen nemesis.
The bad guy (Jon Voight, wisely staying off-screen for all but a few seconds of the show) orders Brett to follow each instruction he gives him or else his wife will face execution. Brett, who is a former race car driver, must complete each assignment under the surveillance of the mysterious villain.
As he crashes his way through crowds and multiple pileups, he is accosted by a young woman known throughout most of the movie as “The Kid” (Selena Gomez). She claims the car is hers and is furious at first with Brett for stealing it. She ends up going along as a passenger, uttering PG-13 expletives and helping Brett figure out ways to elude both the police and the criminal mastermind who’s setting Brett up in an elaborate heist.
This is such a long way from Hawke’s earlier appearance this year in the superlative “Before Midnight” that it’s almost as though we’re seeing a different actor. Within a few months, Hawke has run the cinematic gamut from high-class art film to less-than-mediocre junk.
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I can’t imagine anyone, not even someone who enjoys watching fast cars being driven, wanting to see this movie. The “Fast and Furious” movies are likable even though they’re nonsensical: They work well within the universe that’s been created for them. This doesn’t hold a candle to those movies because it’s one long drive with little character development. The dialogue is laughably awful. Mostly, it’s just people yelling four-letter words (including, of course, “STOP!” occasionally).
All the while, the poor Cobra is beaten to smithereens while the audience watches the mind-numbing sameness of car crash after car crash. Not surprisingly, the finale is as big of a letdown as the material that precedes it.
It’s not worth leaving your house for this excruciating ride.