New action film is goofy ... and sort of fun

By Gary Clift

“Getaway,” a new action movie, is as loud and constantly colorful as some recent suspense movies have been demur. Then, too, it isn’t like any other movie named “Getaway” that I’ve ever seen before.

The 1972 “The Getaway,” directed by Sam Peckinpah, featured Steve McQueen in a story about a convict let out of jail to rob a bank. Like the inferior 1994 version of the same story, it had a Walter Hill screenplay based on a Jim Thompson novel. But the ’94 had Alec Baldwin cast in McQueen’s part. You can imagine how that went.

The new movie “Getaway” is no relation to the others. This one is a faint excuse for and hour and a half of car chases. Not bad car chases—they wind and grind and spill through anonymously urban streets that are supposed to be Sophia, Bulgaria. And they are fun in the way car chases can be fun. In just about all the ways car chases can be fun. And then there are still miles to go without any new ways for them to amuse us.

Leading the pack in all but one of these pursuits is a Shelby Cobra Mustang, a recent one, driven by former race-driver Brent, played by the recently resurgent Ethan Hawke. He is accompanied by the car’s owner, an unnamed under-aged, pistol-packing computer-expert played by Selena Gomez. The movie is ninety percent the two of them inside the car.

Now, don’t blame the messenger if the plot doesn’t make any sense. Brent’s wife has been kidnapped by the minions of a boss. The boss sends a message to Brent that he should pick up the Ford and then drive away. After a shakedown cruise in the car, which is fitted with all sorts of little TV cameras, Brent is sent into a parking garage and wait.

The girl appears at the passenger’s door with her gun and orders Brent to get out. He doesn’t. He takes her gun from her, which pleases the watching boss. Then for maybe forty minutes there is nothing but chase scenes as the Bulgar cops wreck a bevy of vehicles trying to corral the Mustang.

Eventually Brent and the girl establish a rapport. Then the boss sends them to drive to an investment bank—the one her father runs—which is closed for the night. In an attached parking garage, bank employees are loading something we are told is a computer hard-drive into a van. Minions attack and get the drive.

Then Brent and the girl arrive and they get away with the drive, and this is not part of the boss’s plan, or so I guessed. The girl downloads something from the hard drive onto a finger drive. Brent arranges to exchange this finger drive for his wife. And then he spends the next ten minutes avoiding the police.

There is even a false-bottom sort of reversal at the ending of the movie, one that doesn’t work except as ritual—no this doesn’t make any sense in the plot but yes it is like late identity revelations we’ve seen in lots of other movies.

So the story isn’t going to attract or please many moviegoers. “Getaway” ’13’s claim on the ticket-purchasing public has to be its action. Of course, the action is kind of silly, too. Last week we were wondering why the people inside the house in “You’re Next” didn’t turn off the lights so that the cross-bow shooters couldn’t see them to aim at them.

This week we’re wondering why the Mustang never has a flat. The script tries to explain why the car doesn’t get crumpled fenders and so on by saying it is specially armored. I suppose that makes as much sense as do the majority of assertions made by this goofy film.

And it is goofy, too. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t also sort of fun. After all, it acts as a greatest hits album for all the developments we’ve ever seen in movie car-chase scenes.

Even Peckinpaw’s “The Getaway” has some goofiness in it—remember Dub Taylor putting the cat on the hotel bed? But few movies are ever as unremittingly goofy and active as is this new movie. Action fans, take note.

Heck, goofy fans, take note.

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