Start with a trio of five-year-olds. Deprive them of their Adderall and then drive them to the mall. Let them gorge themselves in one of those industrial candy stores, the kind with the six-foot-long Pixy Stix and the peanut butter cups sold by the scoop. Buy them all Big Wheels, festooned with mini-cameras. Set them loose in your back yard with their sisters’ Barbie dolls and the Christmas decorations that your spouse refuses to throw away, then assemble the resulting footage under the influence of the cheapest beer you can find.
Got it? Now do that again with $10 million and a couple of slumming actors, and you’ll have Getaway.
The sheer incompetence of this movie can scarcely be believed. You could show it in film schools as a cautionary example; just run it for the first day of class and say “don’t do this.” It’s a car movie made by people who couldn’t find reverse in a Volkswagen; a puzzle box thriller assembled by the functionally insane. I know that adults were involved in this because I could see them onscreen, which beggars the question of how they could get talked into immolating their dignity and self- respect in this, the worst of all possible ways.
Fault largely lies with director Courtney Solomon, the man responsible for that hideous Dungeons & Dragons movie that set public perception of tabletop gaming back by decades. His technique hasn’t improved much in the ensuing years, enabled by a face-clawingly awful script and an approach to editing that I’m pretty sure qualifies as a war crime. It has no sense of space, of pacing or of coherent narration. Characters gain and lose personality traits at random, driven only by the need to throw them into ridiculous threats trying vainly to form a storyline. Key plot points are explained multiple times after we’ve seen them, digested them, and now would pay real money just to hear the main characters shut the hell up about them. Nothing you have seen can prepare you for its aggressive stupidity, the nadir of a cinematic year that hasn’t exactly been one for the record books.
The story? I suppose there’s one of those, and if you’ve seen the ads, you pretty much have the whole thing. Ethan Hawke is a race car driver who has to tool around Sofia, Bulgaria in a truly gorgeous Shelby performing all manner of felonious stunts at the behest of a mysterious puppet master (Jon Voight) who’s abducted his wife. Selena Gomez shows up to help, looking tasered and exhibiting the kind of quiet desperation that suggests close family members strapped to bombs. Both of them trudge their way through an extended test pattern of car chases, interspersed with some of the most perversely hostile dialogue in the known universe. Conversations literally start with “Shut up!” “No, you shut up!” then go downhill from there. We witness it in mute shock, convinced that we didn’t actually hear what we just heard, then seeing our worst suspicions confirmed through scene after agonizing scene.
At one point during my screening, one of the few other attendees began chatting amiably into his cell phone. Normally that would send me into a homicidal rage, but this time, I was actively grateful for the distraction. “Share with us what’s going on in your world, o chatty stranger! Are you out of milk? Does Mr. Scruffles need a flea dip? Have they fired Mike Scioscia? Oh God, Jon Voight’s telling you to watch the rest of the movie or else he’ll kill your wife, isn’t he? ISN’T HE?!” When you're stuck in a movie as bad as Getaway, you take your distractions where you can find them.