The Reel: Don’t get caught watching “Getaway”

Ben Conniff

“When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade,” as the saying goes.

In the case of “Getaway” director Courtney Solomon, those lemons are GoPro video cameras, and the lemonade is far from palatable.

“Getaway” stars Ethan Hawke as Brent Magna, a former race car driver who is forced to lay low in Sofia, Bulgaria with his wife (Rebecca Budig). After she is kidnapped from their apartment, Brent is forced to steal a tricked-out Ford Shelby Super Snake.

He must carry out all orders barked at him by “The Voice” (Jon Voight) from the car’s dashboard if he wants to see his wife again.

Things get more complicated, if you could call it that, when a young kid (Selena Gomez) tries to carjack Brent and ends up along for the ride.

What ensues is an atrocious barrage of car chases and crashes with minimal regard for storytelling.

According to, “Getaway” features over 6,000 cuts as opposed to the average 1,600 of most films.

This means that the action is so frenetically edited from GoPro cameras mounted to the car that it’s difficult to tell, let alone enjoy, what’s happening on-screen.

What should be a late-summer romp turns out to be nothing more than migraine-inducing road rage.

To make matters worse, the story surrounding the set pieces is abysmal.

I still don’t know why exactly Magna’s wife was taken in the first place or why he’s constantly strung along on high-octane objectives that feel as if they were ripped directly from a “Need for Speed” video game. When “The Voice” finally explains things, it all hardly seems worth the trouble.

The characters’ backstories fail to garner any sense of empathy. Magna, his wife, “The Voice” and “The Kid” are all too one-dimensional for the audience to care about them.

Along with shallow characters, the screenplay, by first-timers Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker, is riddled with dialogue that’s unintentionally funny. There’s little cause for smiles in this heavy-handed picture.

The typically stellar Hawke is clearly overqualified for his role as Brent Magna, perhaps lending more of his chops than necessary to the part.

Gomez fares slightly better than I had anticipated, shedding her Disney charm in favor of a more hardened exterior as “The Kid.”

But she is still difficult to take seriously since her chemistry with Hawke is nearly non-existent. Macaroni has more in common with cheese than these two do with one another.

As “The Voice,” we don’t actually see enough of Voight to pass much judgment, although his accent becomes grating about halfway through the movie.

The film’s strongest sequence comes in its late throes when Magna chases down another vehicle.

The scene is a single-take, point-of-view shot from the Ford Shelby as it speeds close behind an SUV, dodging early morning traffic along the streets of Sofia.

There is no dialogue or musical score here; just the sounds of revving engines, shifting gears and squealing tires. 

For roughly ninety seconds, your eyes are glued to the screen in this state of adrenaline-pumping nirvana. Afterwards, all you can think is, “Why couldn’t the rest of the movie be like this?”

But one sound sequence does not make up for myriad mistakes.

As flashy as the armor-plated, turbo-charged Super Snake may be, this “Getaway” vehicle is in need of a serious tune-up.

Steer clear from this wreck.