Any B-level chase movie worth its celluloid has several essential ingredients. Take Getaway. Morally ambiguous yet sympathetic protagonist? Check. Pretty girl? Check. Fast cars? Check. Bad guy with foreign accent? Check. Deep philosophical and inspiring message? Uh … wrong list.
Getaway does not ask you to engage your brain fully, and it is probably best not to. Otherwise, you may find yourself vigorously nodding in agreement when the hero spouts lines like “I can’t believe that worked!”
That being said, the plight of an ex-race car driver (Ethan Hawke) stealing a souped-up Shelby Super Snake Mustang and performing several illegal acts at the behest of a villain (Jon Voight) who is holding the driver’s wife (Rebecca Budig) captive is at least somewhat compelling.
Helping out in that regard is veteran indie actor Hawke’s strong, emotionally nuanced performance, one of the film’s few elements to rise above its genre. Hawke juggles fairly effectively the driver’s urgent need to save his wife with the safety of a young girl (Selena Gomez) forced to ride with him and the increasingly challenging legal and ethical dilemmas posed by his tormentor.
As for co-star Gomez’s unnamed, sharp-tongued character, well, at least she’s not terrible. Neither she nor Hawke have very good lines to work with. In her case, many of those lines include mild cursing, along with a rude gesture, helping the film earn its PG-13 rating and, sadly enough, keeping her image in the ranks of the classier former Disney starlets secure.
Getaway features some exceptional race-related camerawork, including one particularly impressive continuous shot, but falls victim at times to some sloppy editing. Who knew it only took a split second for the sun to rise in Bulgaria?
The film hits the right emotional touch points, but its frenetic pace and proliferation of car wrecks and explosions barely give the viewer time to think, which is probably intentional.