A 90-minute car chase sounds like a great idea for a movie. A 90-minute car chase in which you can’t see anything that’s happening is another story altogether.
Director Courtney Solomon’s Getaway is an affront to the art of film editing. It’s a mishmash of shots strewn together seemingly at random, discarding any sense of cinematic grammar and barely ever holding onto an image for more than two or three seconds. This is the antithesis of craftsmanship.
Ethan Hawke stars as Brent Magna (great name!), a former race car driver retired to Sofia, Bulgaria, who comes home one Christmas night to find his wife has been kidnapped and a man with a silly accent is on the phone telling him to steal a souped-up Shelby Mustang Silver Snake and drive it around the city crashing into shit, otherwise she’s dead. The car has been outfitted with a whole bunch of consumer-model webcams and listening devices that only seem to work when the movie needs them to, so Hawke is at the beck and call of this mysterious psycho (played by extreme close-ups of Jon Voight’s mouth sucking on martini olives) with a mysterious agenda.
For reasons too stupid to even try and explain, Selena Gomez ends up in the car. While they evade and destroy dozens upon dozens of police cars, she pouts, complains and for all intents and purposes is required to narrate the chase sequences because otherwise we wouldn’t have any idea what the hell is going on.
Solomon cuts willy-nilly between the lo-res webcams while Hawke tries his hardest to find any actorly variations he can on jerking the wheel and slamming the brakes. He destroys more cop cars than The Blues Brothers, but damned if I could tell you how he did any of it. Getaway is a smear of blurry video and loud crashing noises. How dare someone try to get away with this the same year Fast & Furious 6 came out?
And then for two minutes near the end, it becomes miraculous. Solomon abandons the jackrabbit-on-meth editing pattern and just lets a single camera mounted on the front of Hawke’s speeding car navigate traffic at 90 miles an hour in a heart-stopping long take. It’s an incredible shot, full of kinetic energy and breathless precision driving. A cruel tease, as it’s everything that these other 88 miserable minutes are not.