Wretched "Getaway" Competes For Title Of Year's Worst

By the end of “Getaway,” I knew nothing more about the film’s characters than I did when I entered the theater. 90 minutes without a shred of actual storytelling. I had no idea this kind of narrative void was possible on a metaphysical level, but now that I’ve seen a film accomplish it, I’m sort of in awe. The wretchedness on display here is stunning, as if the screenplay was spat out by a musty, old Commodore 64 possessed by the spirit of Ed Wood and directed by a crew of ineffectual yes-men just happy to have jobs.

By this point, you’ve probably gathered that I didn’t like the film, and in doing so, we’ve reached an infinitely higher level of narrative symbiosis than any viewer will ever have with “Getaway.”

Ethan Hawke plays a former racecar driver whose wife has been kidnapped. Jon Voight plays the mostly unseen villain who directs Hawke to a car wired with cameras and mics, proceeding to act as his impulse-control-challenged tour guide in this “race against time” (the marketing team’s words, not mine). When Voight screeches – in an awful Russian accent, of course – “Drive onto that ice rink,” you might think you’re about to be the unsuspecting victim of an elaborate hidden camera show. Surely this can’t be a real movie that executives expect people to pay money to see.

Sadly, as unintentionally funny as its first act is, “Getaway” ultimately bores, its nonstop fast cutting rendering its plot even more inert. Pop star Selena Gomez co-stars as the brash youngster who gets caught up in this tragedy, but I’m not sure what’s more tragic – Hawke’s character fighting to save his wife or this cast being saddled with such a laughable script.

Director Courtney Solomon has little in his background to suggest he’s a capable helmer, but he largely escapes the level of embarrassment reserved for writers Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker. Their lead is so poorly written as to be less than paper-thin, his angst communicated by little more than arched eyebrows. Surely the character has some kind of cool factor, right? Um, he chews on toothpicks. That’s all I’ve got. Steve McQueen this is not.

Selena Gomez is undeniably terrible here, choosing the worst possible follow-up to the pretty remarkable “Spring Breakers,” but she’s young and her opportunities are likely limited at this point in time. What’s Ethan Hawke’s excuse? Unless homelessness was beckoning, there’s no reason for an actor of his talents to be watching this kind of nonsense, let alone starring in it. Jon Voight, is Angelina still not taking your calls? If she were, I’d imagine you’d have to have better prospects than this.

There’s one shot – ironically, a pretty long take – that saves “Getaway” from being the worst film of the year. In a hail storm of fast cutting, one ostensibly continuous shot from the front bumper of a car stands out as pretty damn exhilarating, and if the picture had been more committed to visual dynamism rather than ADHD-style editing, it might have been a salvageable action flick – at least on a visual level. But as it stands, it’s a chore to watch, and I can’t help but feel bad for all involved in this mess. Get away from “Getaway.” As fast as you can.

-J. Olson

Rating: ★ out of ★★★★★ (Very Bad)

Release Date: August 30, 2013
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Courtney Solomon
Screenwriter: Sean Finegan, Gregg Maxwell Parker
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight, Rebecca Budig, Bruce Payne
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense action, violence and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures and language)