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Getaway: Stuck in Neutural

by admin August 30, 2013 6:05 am
Getaway: Stuck in Neutural

You can tell it's the final days of the summer movie season when the only new wide releases in multiplexes are a One Direction documentary promotional video and an action vehicle for the not-so-dynamic duo of Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez, both of which are making pit stops in theaters prior to debuting on DVD where they really belong. If you simply can't abide the idea of seeing a movie that's been in theaters for longer than a week, I'd suggest going with the One Direction thing -- this despite not having seen it or deliberately listened to one of the manufactured band's manufactured tunes -- if only because the screaming of the group's target audience is sure to keep you awake. There's no such respite from the abject tedium of Getaway, which accomplishes the impressive task of vanishing completely from your mind as you're sitting in the theater watching it. Normally, I'm stridently against folks spending an entire movie on their cell phones, but in this case, it's not like there's anything happening onscreen that merits your attention.

Personally, I know that the only aspect of Getaway that kept me remotely engaged in the proceedings was mentally checking off which plot point first-time screenwriters Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker stole from which movie. To wit: stonefaced ace driver (Drive) Brent Magna (Hawke) returns home one evening to learn that his wife has been kidnapped (Taken), and her abductor (a mostly heard-rather-than-seen Jon Voight, adding to his late-career gallery of bad accents) orders him into a tricked-out Ford wired with cameras and recording equipment and told to participate in a series of "games" (Die Hard With a Vengeance), all of which build up to a bigger heist. Somewhere along the way, Brent acquires a reluctant sidekick (Gomez, unconvincingly playing a computer genius/wiseass) with a mile-wide sarcastic streak (Speed) and causes plenty of destruction, both of the vehicular and other variety (The Fast & the Furious Parts 1-6).

There's even a healthy dose of last summer's unfairly ignored beat-the-clock thriller Premium Rush at play here in the way director Courtney Solomon (helmer of the deservedly ignored Dungeons & Dragons movie from the pre-Lord of the Rings trilogy Dark Ages) cuts straight to the well… chase, speeding through the exposition and cutting to black almost exactly at the 90-minute mark. Solomon also tries to change up the shooting style of the standard car chase in the same way Rush director David Koepp found fresh angles for two-wheeled bike chases, attaching digital cameras all over the Magna's vehicle and cutting between the various points-of-view during each high-speed pursuit. The best bit of camera placement comes towards the end, when we get a dashboard-cam view through the front windshield of the Ford as Brent weaves in and out of traffic. It's a fun moment… until you remember, you can spend hours watching the same kind of footage on YouTube for free.

Set for no particularly good reason on the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria (which must have had a surplus of used cars the local government needed destroyed), Getaway possesses about as much local flavor as watered-down Bud Light. That's one of many reasons why it pales in comparison to Premium Rush, which made terrific use of its Manhattan locations… even if it cheated on some of the geography. Also absent from this film is a dynamic hero like Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Wile E. Coyote-inspired bike messenger, a lively baddie like Michael Shannon's wrong-side-of-crazy corrupt cop and creative variations on the staging -- not just the shooting -- of chases. Frankly, for a movie that's essentially one long chase sequence, Getaway's idea of what constitutes a great car chase is pretty pedestrian, particularly when placed alongside past triumphs of vehicular mayhem like The Italian Job (both the original and the remake), To Live and Die in L.A. and Fast Five. Heck, last year's Jack Reacher -- which didn't do a lot right -- did pull off a pretty great late-night pursuit through an abandoned Pittsburgh. Any of those movies (yes, even Jack Reacher) is more worthy of your viewing time than Getaway, a movie whose title helpfully doubles as a warning. As in, "Get away from this drivel."

Get showtimes and tickets for this movie from Fandango.

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