There’s one amazing shot in “Getaway.” If you see the movie — which you shouldn’t, because it’s stupid and boring — you’ll know the shot I mean because it’s the only shot in the whole film that lasts longer than half a second. It’s an extended take from the point of view of a car that is speedily pursuing another vehicle down a highway in Sofia, Bulgaria. Other cars zip in and out of the frame, narrowly missing us and the car we’re chasing. We cover what feels like a mile of road before we cut away. It’s exhilarating!
Apart from that, I can think of almost nothing positive to say about “Getaway,” except that it’s relatively short, gets right to the point, and doesn’t try to be funny. (Nothing worse than a movie that thinks it’s funny but isn’t.) Ethan Hawke stars as Brent Magna (!), a former NASCAR driver living in Sofia who gets a phone call telling him a) his wife has been kidnapped and b) he has to follow his instructions to the letter or she’ll die. The instructions are to steal a particular car that has been left for him in a particular spot, and then to drive around Sofia smashing into fruit carts and farmers markets at the whim of the person on the other end of the phone. The car is fitted with cameras and microphones, lest Brent get any funny ideas about escaping.
For added nefariousness, the voice on the phone (provided by Paul Freeman) has a German accent. For no reason that I can discern, we only see the villain’s fingers, lips, and eyes until the very end of the movie, when it’s revealed to be Jon Voight. So what? Why the mystery? And why couldn’t Voight do his own damn German accent?
But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. After screeching around Sofia for a while, dutifully knocking things over while evading the police (of whom dozens must be killed, given the wreckage of their cars), Brent is waylaid by a carjacker. A teenage girl carjacker played by Selena Gomez, obviously. He swipes the gun out of her hands, and then, instead of driving away and leaving her behind, pulls her into the car and takes her with him. So now he’s got a passenger/carjacker/hostage he doesn’t need or want. (They talk openly about how to escape their predicament, despite the aforementioned microphones.) The good news is that if you’ve always wanted to see Ethan Hawke bicker with a teenage girl for 90 minutes, this is your chance!
What is the villain’s master plan? Oh, the usual: something convoluted and impossible, a grand scheme that’s elaborate without being interesting and that requires a lot of things beyond his control to happen at just the right time and in just the right way. This featherbrained, high-octane misfire was directed by Courtney Solomon (“Dungeons & Dragons,” “An American Haunting”), who evidently is capable of staging thrilling action — witness that one great shot — and has simply chosen not to. Most of “Getaway” consists of chaotic, fast-cut car wrecks and related mayhem, all of it devoid of character, none of it plausible or even exciting. Doesn’t help that it also reinforces my fear of Germans.
D (1 hr., 30 min.; )