Let’s start this off by taking some time to discuss Rotten Tomatoes. Oftentimes, I feel like a lot of people are misinformed regarding the Rotten Tomatoes score. People will look at the tomato-meter number next to a movie and immediately use it as the be-all, end-all movie rating. That’s not how it works, though. The tomato-meter is merely an indicator of the percentage of positive reviews. That means that it aggregates the number of critics who wrote positively about a movie and compares it against the total number of reviews written for that film. Generally, this can be a good indicator of a movie’s quality; if it only has a tomato-meter of, say, 30 percent, then that means only 30 percent of critics actually gave the movie a positive review. However, things get murkier as the tomato-meter approaches the 50 percent mark; Rotten Tomatoes rates a film as “fresh” if it achieves a tomato-meter score of 60 percent or higher. A tomato-meter of less than 60 percent yields a rating of “rotten.” Now, rotten is a pretty negative term to attach to the quality of a film, but you have to put it into perspective: 50 percent of critics didn’t like it, but 50 percent of other critics did. This means the film was very divisive, a love-it or hate-it kind of movie. Films like this generally have the potential to be adored, but the tomato-meter rating of rotten will dissuade a lot of people. This is why it is important to note the average rating, a score out of ten written just below the much larger tomato-meter score. A film with a 50 percent tomato-meter score but an average rating of 6.9/10 could still be a decent flick worth watching. In the case of Getaway, a film with a 3 percent tomato-meter score and an average rating of 2.6/10, this is certainly not the case.
Getaway tells the tale, (this might be a bit insulting to tales everywhere), of Brent Magna, a former racecar driver with an adult film actor’s name. Magna is compelled by, wait for it, “The Voice,” to perform some nefarious deeds, like destroying a bunch of christmas trees in middle of a park, when his wife is kidnapped. These dark tasks must be done behind the wheel of a custom Shelby Mustang, because Magna is a former racecar driver and without that background and the car they could have gotten literally anyone else to do the things they force him to do. When the original owner of the car, “The Kid” (I’m not making these up), shows up, she is pulled into the whirlwind of poorly executed blackmail that is the crux of Magna’s predicament. “The Kid” and Magna must team up to get Magna’s wife back before “The Voice” runs out of lozenges. I can’t even take the plot seriously. It’s one of the most clichéd things I’ve ever had to sit through. You have seen multiple variations of literally all of these tropes.
The always dependable Ethan Hawke is the heart and soul of Getaway as burnt-out former driver Brent Magna. Unfortunately, Hawke’s dependability is stretched to the absolute limit as he tries to hold the weight of this mess of a film on his shoulders. The least you can say about his performance is that he seems to take it seriously enough that it doesn’t devolve into absolute campiness. Still, the material he is given is incredibly poor, and even Ethan Hawke can’t perform miracles with a stillborn role. His banter with “The Kid” is some of the most asinine I’ve had to listen to in a long time. The character of Magna runs on one motivation, to find his wife, with zero character development or even a second thought about who might have done this to him. The only one who seems to ask these questions is “The Kid”, as portrayed by Selena Gomez.
My initial thought about Gomez in this film was that she was definitely not ready to graduate from the Disney Channel. However, after paying a bit more attention I realized that, like Hawke, she is merely a victim of a paperthin character that exists solely to push the plot forward by asking the questions that don’t seem to cross Magna’s mind. Her character’s other purposes include swearing a lot, reminding the audience how stupid Magna is, and doing some “hacking” with her iPad. Yeah, I laughed pretty hard at that, too. Despite this, Gomez seems to perform the role pretty much as I would expect it to seem on paper. Still, the fact that she is in almost the entire film and her name is never given is a pretty telling statement about the level of development her character undergoes.
Courtney Solomon, the wunderkind director of 2000’s worst film nominee Dungeons and Dragons returns to the chair after a thirteen-year hiatus to helm Getaway. What can be said about his anticipated return? Well, I’m assuming the film’s producers had this thought: “Well, it’s been thirteen years, maybe he’s learned a thing or two.” Yes, faceless producers, he has learned a thing or two; he’s learned how to make an even more terrible film, if we’re going off the Rotten Tomatoes scores. His direction on Getaway is reminiscent of a child undergoing a seizure while filming a home movie. The editing in this film is some of the worst I have ever seen. The cuts are so fast as to lend little comprehension regarding what is happening on screen or in terms of the plot. Shots fluctuate between Hawke’s feet on the pedals, Hawke’s hand on the gearshift, Hawke’s face as he makes sidelong glances at his rearview mirror, and the tires of the car. Essentially all within five seconds. These shots are recycled over and over throughout the film; Selena Gomez’s bemoaning of Hawke’s character’s driving ability is occasionally peppered amongst them. The film also takes place almost entirely at night, the darkness of the scenes making them even harder to process alongside the schizophrenic, hack-and-slash editing. Car chase scenes are boring and any sense of danger for the main characters is mitigated by the illogical and physics-defying setpieces. Truly, this is one of the most poorly directed films I’ve seen in a long time.
If only better things could be said about the writing. Getaway’s script makes the entire romantic-comedy genre look like the pinnacle of artistic filmmaking . It is so ridden with cliches that my eyes, already unfocused by the film’s insane editing, were in a permanent rolling motion. As mentioned above, character development is nil and what’s presented of the characters in the film is incredibly shallow. The plot isn’t predictable so much as it seems to make no sense; “The Voice” starts off by telling Magna to destroy some Christmas paraphernalia, making me think he’s basically just the Grinch, but the producers couldn’t afford Jim Carrey or that ridiculous green suit he wore. If you’re looking for thematic storytelling, you’re better off watching something like Sharknado or an Insane Clown Posse music video. In regards to the dialogue, you’d be better off playing Xbox live and listening to thirteen year old kids while playing Call of Duty online. They sound more intelligent than most of the things these poor actors are required to say in order to get a payday.
The cinematography in this movie is some of the most uninspired I’ve ever seen. Beyond the terrible cutting throughout the film, camera angles are recycled often and are generally pretty stereotypical; this is a movie with a lot of driving in it, so there’s lots of “dynamic” shots of tires spinning and of fishtailing around corners, etc. Meanwhile, music seemed nonexistent. Generally this means it wasn’t good enough to make an impression, but I think I was just not really listening for it. I can only hope it wasn’t as terrible as the rest of the film, since I was most likely too busy trying to get my eyes to look straight ahead to pay attention to it.
Getaway is not the worst film I have ever seen, that esteemed title most likely belongs to the so-bad-it’s-hilarious Troll 2. Still, it is easily one of, if not the worst, movie that I have had to see in a long time. Between puddle-deep characters, a laughable plot, direction that is ridiculously off the mark, writing that fails on nearly every level, and editing and pacing that make watching the film downright exhausting, this is a film that I simply cannot recommend to anyone. Rush is the driving movie I want to see, but until then, if I were to rate Getaway, I’d probably rate it pretty poorly.
Getaway Rating: 2/10