Ethan Hawke is on some kind of roll, making easily the two stupidest movies to come out this year. First was The Purge, a shoddy home-invasion movie that covered itself in the sheen of its very important, very pointless attempt at high-minded ideas. Now we get Hawke in the car-chase film Getaway, a murderers’ row of stupid concepts, mindless property damage and total contempt for its audience’s intelligence. It’s the kind of moronic movie that makes The Purge look like high art.
While the film’s advertising likes to compare Getaway to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011), about all they have in common are there are cars. The main selling point seems to be that there’s no CGI at play here, and that these are real stuntmen crashing real cars into each other in all manner of spectacular ways. While I’ll be the first to kvetch about the overuse of CGI, praising a film simply for using practical effects is forgetting that the history of film is strewn with great stunt work in really crappy movies. Getaway is the cinematic equivalent of being a child and running your Hot Wheels into one another, shooting spittle everywhere as you make explosion noises.
There’s a plot, so to speak, involving Hawke (who looks like a Kevin Bacon impersonator these days) as former NASCAR driver Brent Magna, a man with a past — and Tom Cruise’s outfit from War of the Worlds (2005). Brent lives in Bulgaria as a means of escaping his shady doings (and certainly not because it’s really cheap to film a movie in Eastern Europe). But he can’t escape — some sort of evil mastermind (Jon Voight) has kidnapped his wife (Rebecca Budig), and to to get her back, Mr. Magna must steal a souped-up muscle car from disaffected rich girl “The Kid” (Selena Gomez) and set off to complete a series of inane tasks.
Really, this is an excuse for Voight’s “The Voice,” as he’s credited in the film, to coerce Brent into driving recklessly into various boxes, barrels and assorted refuse — not to mention manipulate cop cars into crashing calamitously. That’s honestly the entirety of the film, so it’s a pity that all these car chases are shot in such a slapdash, headache-inducing fashion. The movie is so low-budget, everything looks like it was shot on a webcam. When The Voice actually gets Brent and young Miss Kid to accomplish something that moves the story forward, the film is too idiotic to keep up. There’s this whole business about them blowing up a power plant to shut down the power grid, but then everywhere they go, the power is still on. Some sort of contrivance, perhaps? Nope, since the movie keeps mentioning how the power’s out everywhere, and yet, the lights are still on. This is a jaw-droppingly stupid movie that almost feels like it’s not even finished — like I saw a workprint by accident somehow. But no, this is a real movie, made by real adults and playing in real movie theaters. Rated PG-13 for intense action, violence and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures and language.
Playing at Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artists Beaucatcher