Several weeks ago now, I had plans to do incredibly deep and focused reviews and individual character reactions to the six STAR WARS movies. Obviously, that hasn’t happened, and it’s been largely due to two reasons: One, I caught a massive flu that knocked me sideways almost immediately after posting the Phantom Menace review, and two, the free time I have had was spent getting my latest novel, The Christmas Engine, ready for publication.
I’m feeling better but I’m still catching up, so I don’t have the time to sit and really think about the STAR WARS movies or to go to the theater to watch Hobbit 2, so I’ve been watching a bunch of TV shows and movies that I don’t review. (Short take: Dan Harmon-led Community is back – nothing else matters.) I like car movies, though, so when GETAWAY became available on Netflix, I jumped it to the top of my list.
Like a fast food burger that comes out of its wrapping mushed flat and oozing condiments, GETAWAY is tasty enough without being exactly what you wanted.
I have to laugh a bit at GETAWAY’s 2% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes because … what were people expecting? If you don’t like this kind of movie, that’s fine, but GETAWAY gives you exactly what it promises: Ethan Hawke driving a Shelby Mustang with Selena Gomez in the passenger seat and Jon Voight pulling the strings. It’s not terribly smart, it’s not terribly fun, and it delivers its carporn at a level that’s not terribly satisfying if you’ve ever seen Top Gear, but if you like car movies, there’s enough here to make GETAWAY worth a spin in your Blu-ray player.
Brent Magna (Hawke) is a washed out stock car driver that’s done some bad things and has moved to Bulgaria with his wife, Leanne (Rebecca Budig). He comes home to find their apartment damaged and Leanne missing. A phone rings and funny-accented Jon Voight tells him to go steal a Shelby Mustang that’s waiting for him and do whatever he says if he ever wants to see his wife again. A short time later, The Kid (Gomez) draws a gun on Magna to steal the Mustang because it’s actually her car. Then they drive around a lot. The Kid’s dad is the CEO of a bank and she’s a computer expert and she likes to tell Magna he’s stupid. Which he is.
There’s a few things that GETAWAY does well and a few things it does that are hilarious.
Let’s start with the funny: Brent Magna. Go ahead and say it out loud. Brent Magna.
Brent Vroom Vroom Fucking Vroom Magna.
It’s such a ludicrous name that the screenwriters were too embarrassed to even bother to name the other two main roles: Selena Gomez’s character is just “The Kid” and Jon Voight is “The Voice.” At that point, they should have just gone back and renamed Brent Fucking Magna “The Driver” and been done with it.
Beyond those glorious names, where GETAWAY disappoints is the arbitrariness of all the car chases. The Voice sends Magna and Kid into trouble in order to get the cops to block off enough streets to create a single lane out of the city. Because … I don’t know. I guess if you want your people to escape the city after stealing a computer drive it makes total sense to have ALL THE TRAFFIC IN THE CITY ON ONE STREET. The street runs out of the city, which means people are still entering the city on that street and then, when they get on it, they can’t get off because the magical roadblock plan prevents them from going anywhere else.
I know, I know. Don’t think. Just watch.
Well, if you do “just watch,” GETAWAY is a decent-enough watch. I’m not a huge fan of the look of any Mustang post-First Generation, but the Shelby GT500 Super Snake version of the Fifth Generation Mustang used in the movie really is a good looking modern muscle car. (The coming Sixth Generation is a really nice looking car, too.) It sounds good and it looks perfectly fine screeching and accelerating and cornering around Bulgaria. It’s actually the perfect car for a movie like this because it’s meaty enough to take and deliver damage.
The car chases are solid without being spectacular. There’s a sameness to them after a bit as they are almost always chased by identical police cars, but on their own, they’re loud and fast and create plenty of crashes. I do get the sense that Mag- The Driver – is good at what he does and that the Super Snake is appropriately ballsy enough to do what’s asked of it.
The chemistry between Hawke and Gomez takes a while to work, but after The Kid makes the decision to stick with Magna and stop her incessant whining and bitching, it’s effective enough. I really like the fact that The Kid is smarter than Magna, that she lets him know it, and that he agrees with her. Hawke does a decent job relaying that Magna is in over his head, and once Gomez gets to focus on The Kid’s brain instead of her snottiness, the character comes into her own.
Other than her brief appearance in The Muppets, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gomez act in anything before GETAWAY. While she’s not yet a good actress, she does have a bit of an “It” factor that goes beyond her attractiveness; she’s cute, but this is Hollywood – there’s cute girls in almost everything. Gomez is much better in GETAWAY when Kid is played as smart and likable rather than when she’s angry, which makes you want to root for her. Compare this to Amber Heard in the awesome Drive Angry, who plays the angry, self-assured individual at a much higher level – Heard’s performance makes me want to watch her character kick physical ass, while Gomez’s performance makes me want to watch her character kick intellectual ass. It’s refreshing that she figures out the Voice’s plan and comes up with a counter for it, and Gomez manages to pull that off. I’m interested to see what she does next and whether she does get better or if she relies solely on her likability. I hope it’s the former.
As much as I laughed every time The Voice talked in that goofy accent, there is a reason for it that does pay off at the end of the film. So there’s that.
If you don’t like car movies, I don’t know if I’d feel good recommending GETAWAY to you, but if you’re in the mood to watch a Super Snake go careening around an Eastern European city, GETAWAY fits the need. There’s no real story to follow and it doesn’t reach the carporn beauty of Top Gear, but there’s enough vroom vroom fucking vroom to make it worth one watch.
When he’s not writing about movies, Mark Bousquet is doing some writing himself. He is the author of multiple novels and collections, including the horror novel The Haunting of Kraken Moor, Gunfighter Gothic, Stuffed Animals for Hire, Dreamer’s Syndrome, Harpsichord and the Wormhole Witches, and Adventures of the Five. He has also published a review collection entitled Marvel Comics on Film, which covers every cinematic and TV movie based on a superhero from the House of Ideas. A complete listing of all his work can be found at his Amazon author page.