In the tradition of successful, action-packed car chase movies of the past, Getaway sets its sights on a very specific audience: one that fast-forwards through the plot of a coherent suspense drama in order to get to the fast cars and explosions. These filmmakers seem to have had that in mind with this film, deliberately minimizing any trace of competent storytelling in order to make the film as close as possible to being one uninterrupted, 90-minute car chase. This may sound like an interesting idea on paper, but the resulting barrage of squealing tires, revving engines and police sirens helps you remember why some basic cinematic conventions exist. Unlike other car chase thrillers like the classic Bullitt, or the character-driven caper Gone in 60 Seconds, or even the much-maligned Fast and Furious franchise, this film seems content to leave the editing room with a sloppy, haphazardly assembled plot, almost zero characterization, and dialogue that’s so poorly written it elicits laughs where there aren’t supposed to be any.
The plot is fairly straightforward: Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) is a retired professional racer with a dark past, whose only saving grace is the love of his angelic wife. One day, he comes home to find that she’s been kidnapped, and a mysterious, disembodied voice on the phone (Jon Voight) tells Magna that unless he gets behind the wheel of a modified muscle car and does whatever the disembodied voice tells him, his wife will die. The elevator pitch for this might have been Taken meets Phone Booth—with fast cars! The unique element here is the inclusion of Selena Gomez, whose character seems to have been dropped into the narrative solely to boost ticket sales with the presence of a teen pop idol.
Maybe at the conceptual level, there was a chance that this could have been a really unique, engaging action film, but as it stands, all that this film has to offer is some pretty novel car’s-eye-view camera angles and some laughs from Jon Voight’s unintentionally hilarious “European” accent. The best thing about this movie might be its mercifully short running time.