Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Cinema File #250: "Getaway" Review

Ever since the recent box office resurgence of the Fast and the Furious franchise, I've been forced to question the continued viability of the endless car chase movie. Even understanding the appeal, haven't we seen enough of cars driving really fast and bashing into each other? Are these movies really so different from one another that we need to keep doing them? Is there anything left to say that hasn't already been said, assuming there was ever anything to say at all? Apparently the producers of Getaway seem to think there's more ground to cover, and at least in raw mileage they certainly speed through a great deal of it, through I defy you to find any of it all that interesting or groundbreaking. Directed by Courtney Solomon of Dungeons and Dragons the Movie fame, Getaway is even more so than its competition in the genre a car commercial in search of a movie, and after 90 minutes of insufferable noise and nonsense, I'm not buying.

Getaway is the story of an ex-race car driver forced to get behind the wheel of a stolen suped up muscle car and perform a series of tasks at the behest of a mysterious villain in order to save his kidnapped wife. To the film's credit, the whole thing starts off fairly well, thankfully dispensing with the pointless pre-kidnapping status quo and placing us right in the middle of the action to place the audience in the same frame of mind as its bewildered protagonist. I must admit that as the nefarious instructions provided to our hero seemed to add up to no more than random chaos, I found myself more interested in where all this was going than I had initially expected I ever would be. There is a point at which this movie could have easily been paired down to a streamlined 30 minute short film that I might have even called halfway decent. The problem is, the movie passes that point with another hour to go, and just keeps going and going and going...

Getaway alternates between a series of poorly shot car chases so boring and repetitive that I ache for some plot and character development, and moments featuring plot and character development so tedious and annoying that I yearn to go back to the car chases. Bouncing back and forth trying to figure out which is the lesser of two evils, I eventually resign myself to the lull of the experience, clinging on to the slim sliver of hope that the mystery of why all this is happening might actually be something worth my time and effort. Of course it's not, as if I were going to be so lucky. At times it feels like an adaptation of a Grand Theft Auto game, but the way I always played them, never encountering the plot, just grabbing a random car and seeing how many people I could run over before they started sending tanks after me (so I could steal the tanks). The promise of some anarchist conspiracy or some other complex and engaging reason for all the random carnage eventually devolves into exactly the kind of cookie cutter action thriller plot you'd expect, complete with teenage expert hackers and digital bank heist technology that seemed futuristic back in the late 90's when I assume this script was written as a straight to DVD Casper Van Dien vehicle.

Ordinarily I'd make some kind of transition from the word "vehicle" in the last paragraph to move on to the subject of just how impossibly indestructible the main characters car is, but honestly I'm too tired to nitpick. Plot holes abound, obviously, not the least of which is that by the end, you realize that really none of this was necessary and the whole plot to kidnap a guy's wife and make him drive around town as a part of this otherwise self-contained bank heist is just needlessly complicated and ultimately adds nothing. I won't spoil the driver's role in everything, at least to the extent that I even understand it, but it makes very little sense beyond providing a hook for a story already slight enough that I question if it was all worth it. Why not just hire a guy to do all this stuff willingly instead of putting someone in a position to ruin all of your plans? This is made even stupider when you realize that the spunky car jacker he gets saddled with halfway through the movie wasn't there by accident, but was an equally "integral" part of the villain's scheme.

As bad as Getaway was, I almost forgot while watching it that it was directed by the same guy who did Dungeons and Dragons, that is until I saw Bruce Payne show up in a quick cameo in the third act. Payne is an actor that Wikipedia assures me is as good an actor as Fred Astaire is a dancer, even though the only movies I've ever seen him in were the first two crappy D&D films and that terrible fourth Highlander movie Endgame. Oh, and Switch, a Blake Edwards movie about wacky gender swapped zombies locked in a cosmic chess game between God, the Devil, and a hunky early 90's Jimmy Smits. Why am I devoting an entire section of my review of Getaway to this completely off topic blather you ask? Because that's how little I care about this movie, and how desperate I am to now occupy my mind with something more worthwhile. It's not even so bad that I can have fun being mad at it. It just sits there, spinning its wheels, leaving my desire to be entertained in the dust. Hold up, lets see if I have another car metaphor in me...something about exhaust and being exhausted maybe? No, nevermind. I lost it.

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