• November 23, 2014

‘Getaway’: Running on empty

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Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 4:30 am

In “Getaway,” Ethan Hawke plays a veteran auto racer named Brent Magna.

And that’s really all you need to know.

A movie that gives its hero such a dorky mock-macho name isn’t likely to have a lot of imagination to fuel the rest of the picture. This high-speed, high-impact car chase caper is creatively running on fumes and four flat tires.

It doesn’t have a plot, really. It’s more a first draft of an outline of a notion. Brent Magna’s wife is kidnapped. Brent Magna must follow the kidnapper’s instructions to keep Mrs. Brent Magna alive. Brent Magna is ordered to race through the city streets in a hot rod, creating chaos. Brent Magna scatters many pedestrians, sideswipes many police cars and careens around many corners. It reads better than it plays. “Getaway” is not a movie, it is a list of traffic violations.

In theory this material could be the basis for a stupidly awesome live-action cartoon, but that would call for a stratospheric level of self-awareness and filmmaking ingenuity. This is not “Crank,” the intentionally outrageous Jason Statham movie. This is a movie for people who view “Crank” and don’t get the irony.

“Getaway” takes place mostly inside a speeding car at night, focusing on Hawke’s grimacing face, giving the action a serious lack of visual variety. The chase scenes are ugly, smeary, low-res messes that resemble video from a bargain-brand cellphone. Director Courtney Solomon mimics Tony Scott’s cut-cut-cut style without understanding how to edit those fragments coherently.

It’s unclear why the film is set in Sofia, Bulgaria. Perhaps it’s because the city has an endless supply of stupid patrol officers, who think they can run a supercharged Shelby Super Snake Mustang off the road with their Fiat-style police cruisers.

Jon Voight appears as The Voice, a disembodied pair of lips seen in closeup, who sends Brent Magna his orders via Skype.

Selena Gomez plays an abrasive little spud who leaps into the car and just happens to know the key to the convoluted plot. Hawke’s unchanging expression is a “what have I got myself into” gape that could reflect his character’s plight, or his own chagrin at signing on for this disgrace.

The movie’s title contains the review: Get away.

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