“Getaway” opens with Ethan Hawke’s Brent Magna walking into a ransacked apartment. While he examines the scene, the action cuts back and forth between a woman being abducted from that apartment, Brent examining the apartment, and a man we never fully see instructing Brent by phone to steal a car from an underground garage if he ever wants to see his wife again.
The bad guy has rigged the car with cameras and a GPS device so he can watch Brent’s every move. He promptly instructs Brent — did I mention he’s a former race car driver? — to speed recklessly through a crowded market and ram into a stage where a man is performing. Brent objects but the bad man reminds him that if he doesn’t do as instructed, the bad man will have Brent’s wife killed.
At this point, we’ve been treated to amateurish dialogue, frenetic camera work, overzealous editing, and at best a mildly intriguing premise. Maybe we can take solace in some exciting car chases?
But wait! First, Brent is instructed to pull into an underground garage, where a young woman in a Detroit Tigers hat named The Kid (Selena Gomez) pulls a gun on him and tells him to get out of the car, which happens to be hers. Obviously, that doesn’t turn out well for The Kid, who’s now forced to go with Brent for a very long ride.
Now the exciting car chases ensue. If only we knew where Brent was going and actually feared that the maniac behind the madness really was going to kill his wife. Then we might have something to care about.
Gomez’s character ultimately uses her computer skills to help Brent zero in on the bad guy pulling the strings. I suppose she’s meant to represent a generation of tech-savvy kids, and the audience is meant to be entertained by the generation gap between her and Brent. However, everything about their relationship and her character is clumsy and forced. The only way Gomez, who does possess talent, could be more miscast is if somebody hired her to play a sumo wrestler. Her work here, intentionally or not, also comes across as a lame attempt to shed her wholesome “Wizards of Waverly Place” image with a role that allows her to cut loose with the word “a**hole” a number of times, interspersed with liberally dropped s-bombs.
There is one good thing about “Getaway.” Minutes before it ends, we get a chase scene shot from a heart-pounding point of view in Brent’s car. It’s so clever, it doesn’t belong in this movie. I literally smacked my forehead in frustration as I watched it, and wondered why didn’t we see something like this sooner and throughout the film. If we had, I wouldn’t have spent my time watching “Getaway” wondering when I’d be able to take the title’s advice.
One out of five stars.