The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Getaway - Own it on Blu-Ray November 26!

Getaway should be required viewing for any filmmaker considering making a car chase movie. It offers a virtual step-by-step tutorial on what not to do. The film is wrongheaded in so many ways that, after a while, it almost begins to take on a perverse sense of amusement. The RiffTrax guys should totally consider tackling this one. Getaway hits Blu-Ray and DVD on November 26.

Ethan Hawke plays the improbably-named Brent Magna, a disgraced former race car driver. His wife has been kidnapped, and he's been provided a with Shelby Super Snake rigged with cameras and other devices. A voice on the car's Bluetooth system issues commands he must carry out if he wants to see his wife alive again. You can tell that Getaway has zero interest in telling a story, because all this is crammed in a two-minute pre-credit montage. Anything that might make us care about Brent such as, you know, the anguish of discovering his wife has been taken is thoroughly glossed over so the film can get to its real mission: staging an endless series of car crashes on the streets of Bulgaria. (There's no reason for the movie to be set there, other than that it presumably lowered the budget.) During a brief moment of stopping, the car's owner (Selena Gomez, not given the courtesy of a character name despite being the female lead) attempts to jack her wheels back and ends up going on the mission with Brent. Fortunately, she's a master computer hacker, able to tap into any system, no matter how complex, with just a few swipes of the iPad she conveniently has with her. Together, they attempt to locate and outwit the evil mastermind dictating their moves. It's worth noting that we only ever see extreme close-ups of his eye or mouth, so that the film, in its final two seconds, can stupidly reveal that a well-known actor has been playing the role the entire time.

Car chase movies are practically a genre all their own, and there have even been a few great ones over the years. Getaway is not one of them. Aside from the fact that it skirts the moral issues involved in Brent causing a lot of Bulgarian police cars to violently crash, presumably injuring the innocent officers inside, the film fails to stage its vehicular mayhem competently. Director Courtney Solomon (Dungeons & Dragons) doesn't provide a sense of geography, so we never fully grasp which direction the cars are traveling or where they're supposed to be in relation to one another. The rapid-fire editing does nothing to clarify. Most of the crashes look random. (There is one long, unbroken shot in the final half hour, taken from the POV of the pursuing car, that is more exciting than any of the composite stuff.) Exacerbating the problem is that Solomon overuses close-ups of Brent's foot on the pedals. I swear, every ten seconds during the chases, you get a shot of his foot hitting the gas or the brake. The monotony of it is staggering. Getaway is also filled with sloppy continuity errors, such as the fact that the passenger side window of the Shelby is always up, except for when the plot requires Selena Gomez to lean out, in which case it's magically down.

No one seems engaged in this picture. Hawke looks like he's waiting for his paycheck to clear, and Gomez is woefully miscast as a hard-edged hacker. Writers Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker didn't create a story to draw us in; Getaway has all the dramatic depth of a bad videogame. Solomon seems to think repetitive crashes are all his film needs to satisfy viewers. In fairness, the car stunts were done practically, with no CGI used. However, that doesn't compensate for the ineptness of everything else.

As befitting a movie of such low stature, the Blu-Ray extras are five short, substance-free promotional segments, each one running a single minute. Despite their abbreviated cumulative running time, quotes from the participants are repeated. An UltraViolet copy of the film is included.

( out of four)

Getaway is rated PG-13 for intense action, violence and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures, and language. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

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