Director: Courtney Solomon
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Selea Gomez, John Voight
Running time: 90 min
Release: 6th December
Getaway‘s premise – Selena Gomez and Ethan Hawke career around Hollywood’s nightmare of Bulgaria in an armoured car – sounds like it might just be surreal enough to work. Spring Breakers in a cold climate, maybe. After all, James Franco is simply Ethan Hawke after a cheesburger or two. And Getaway looks like it might make use of Eastern Europe the way Hollywood often does; as a space of productive instability, even terror. It’s racist, but it’s entertaining – see Hostel, if you must.
Director Courtney Solomon (An American Haunting, Dungeons and Dragons) is no Harmony Korine, though. He’s a shlockster with a backround in MMORPGs. Solomon doesn’t seem to have much of an imagination, or a sense of humour, or one of irony, even. Ok, no matter. It’s a pure-blood car chase B-movie that we’re dealing with. Car chases give me travel sickness, but films based around them are often great place-evokers – Bullitt and San Francisco, Heat and L.A. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, even. But get to Europe and things get muddier – maps are made up rather than read. Ronin, for example. Ever noticed the way trailers for foreign films are often edited to make them look like they could be American films? In Getaway, Bulgaria is effaced to make it look like Vice City. No thrilling explorations of a city’s specifics to be found here.
I’ve put it off long enough, but there is a sort-of plot waiting to be summarised. Brent Magna (Hawke) is a former rally driver. Forced to retire for murky reasons, he decided to put his skills to still murkier uses. As the film opens, he’s just gone straight, and started a new life in Sofia with his wife. But then she’s kidnapped, and Magna gets a call from a mysterious Voice who directs him an underground carpark and a souped-up Shelby Mustang Super Snake (that’s a car). He’s ordered to drive around recklessly, pulling increasingly dangerous stunts, in order to save his wife’s life. Selena Gomez is the would-be teen hijacker who gets mixed up in the whole thing.
Whoever thought of putting Ethan Hawke and Gomez into a confined space together for an hour and a half knew what they were doing – now it’s impossible to deny that he’s turning into one of those creepy older gents with overlong nostril hair. Gomez has an f-word or two to go till she shakes the Disney thing (if Miley Cyrus has done anyone any good, she’s at least shown that the Mickey Mouse club isn’t a life sentence); she’s still a child in cinema terms. There’s little chemistry between the two, naturally, just a miasma of sleaze – thus the relationship is, if not exciting, or interesting, then at least diverting, something more than boring.
When watching Getaway, best thing to do is imagine you’re in a videogame. An MMORPG. Sneak a PS1 controller in in your Jansport – just bury it under all those cans of Aldi cola. And let me know if you believe that Jon Voight actually provided his voice for the Voice, because he sounds a lot like a Tommy Wiseau soundboard to me. Otherwise, enjoy the franctic car chases, put your fingers in your ears when they try to have conversations, and don’t expect to the plot to be resolved in any consistent way. And don’t bring any of your Bulgarian buddies along.