A washed-up race car driver is forced to drive haphazardly around Bulgaria in order to help save the life of his kidnapped wife in the action film Getaway.
Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke), living abroad in Bulgaria, returns home one day to find his apartment in shambles and his wife missing. Suddenly, his cell phone rings and an ominous voice tells him that, if he wants his wife to live, he’ll have to complete a specific set of tasks, starting with the theft of a very souped-up Ford Mustang. Once in the car, his tormentor informs him that the car is armored, has bulletproof glass and that Magna will be monitored at all times due to the myriad of cameras and microphones placed all around. He is not to leave the car, and any deviation will result in the death of his wife. The Voice then tells Magna to start driving and gives him entirely unpredictable directions like driving through parks, running red lights, hitting seemingly random vehicles, etc.
At the first stop, a small teenage girl (Selena Gomez) breaks into the car at gunpoint and demands that Magna hand it over. He easily subdues her and insists she leave, but then The Voice tells Magna to kill her. When Magna refuses, The Voice tells him that he made the right choice and that she is needed and should not be let go. Then, as is the case for most of the rest of the film, they’re forced to rush off with the police in hot pursuit and The Voice calling all the shots.
Wait! Didn’t The Voice make it clear that, if Magna deviated from his instructions in any way, his wife would die? If the girl is so important, what would have happened if Magna pulled the trigger? Questions like these are far too complex in this totally inane wreck of a film. We’re talking Mystery Science Theater 3000 parody material. The sheer litany of outrageously dubious moments boggles the mind.
Over-the-top technobabble and technology — like an in-car GPS that somehow gives driving directions from inside an enclosed parking garage — are just the tip of the iceberg.
It relishes in plot holes so big that no roadblock on Earth could cover the expanse. In one scene, Magna throws Gomez’s cell phone away, but then we see her pull out another one from her bag. Since she’s a geek, that’s perfectly normal, right? Real geeks have three or more cell phones, don’t they?
We’re told the car is essentially a small tank that Magna easily uses to dispatch a fleet of police cars like flies but has major issues eluding four basic motorcycles. Then there’s the impervious bulletproof glass. It stops everything and never even scratches, but that doesn’t stop its two inhabitants from constantly ducking to avoid bullets. There’s even a climactic — well, at least it’s supposed to be climactic — scene where a baddie fires an unprecedented number of bullets into the side of the car, but then Magna takes him out with a single shot while neglecting to put the window down.
There’s also an important plot element involving the need to take out a power station. We watch as power goes out all over the city — that is, until they leave the confines of the power station when suddenly everything is working just fine.
Then there’s The Voice who’s made it clear he’s a super-techie who’s thought of everything but then doesn’t seem to comprehend a simple cell phone late in the film proclaiming incredulously, “Is that a camera?”
Speaking of cameras, the camera work is, like everything else, a mess. The film during many chases is clearly sped up, giving several scenes a bad ’70s film feel. No action sequence is complete until we jump to a zoomed shot that often doesn’t match what we just saw in the wide shot. Bring along some Dramamine because it’s all impossible to follow. Then there are the countless angsty — but unintentionally hilarious — flash shots (mostly of Gomez) that also seem to have little connection with the rest of the action.
The final insult is the film’s big “reveal” that happens in the last shot of the movie. First, this only matters if there’s going to be a sequel. Let us all pray that never happens. Second, it’s ruined for most people before the movie even starts. Last, it’s about as compelling as getting strawberry jelly on a PB&J sandwich.
I can think of no better way to spend 90 minutes than watching Getaway — that is, if my goal is to find the worst way to spend 90 minutes.