Even in the realm of really bad movies, “Getaway” is a special kind of awful. The picture is virtually one long, loud, brain-hammering car chase, with brief pit stops along the way for the script to unload some implausible exposition before roaring off again at full screech. Sounds like an action movie, doesn’t it? But action requires style and spirit and precision editing. “Getaway” might have been edited with a weed whacker; it has the spirit of a movie distribution deal; and schlock impresario Courtney Solomon — who gets to direct stuff like this because he runs After Dark Films, the company that churns it out — probably wouldn’t recognize style if it ran him over.
Although it only slowly becomes clear, the story is set in Bulgaria. Why? Well, apart from the obvious — Bulgaria is a cheap place to make movies — the capital city of Sofia is where the film’s American protagonist, Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke), currently resides. How come? Well, Brent is a former professional race car driver who got into some vague sort of trouble with bad guys back in the States and decided to move here with his Bulgarian wife (Rebecca Budig, an American actor making no attempt to seem otherwise) in order to “lie low.” OK.
One night, Brent comes home and finds his apartment trashed and his wife gone. His phone rings. On the other end is a nameless master criminal, played by the murmuring lips and stubbly chin of Jon Voight, attempting to channel Rutger Hauer. This character has Brent’s wife in his clutches, and if he doesn’t spend the rest of the night doing exactly what Voight wants, his wife will die. Brent’s first assignment is to go to a particular parking garage and steal a “special car” that’s waiting there. This turns out to be a Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake — $90,000 worth of hulking automotive muscle. Voight has had the car fitted out with cameras inside and out and with a phone link through the dashboard GPS. He orders Brent to get moving — and to do as much street damage as possible while he’s at it.
Who would own a $90,000 car in Sofia? That question is answered in a traffic clog, when a nameless girl (Selena Gomez, looking about 12 years old) hops in and whips out a gun. It’s her car! (And her gun, too, presumably.) Dashboard Voight tells Brent to bring her along — it’s part of his all-seeing plan — and after some rote bickering, she decides that maybe she can be of help. (Along with the gun, she has an iPad.)
There are several destinations on Voight’s mysterious agenda. As whole fleets of police cars sail through the air and tumble and burn behind them and as thugs with guns and rocket launchers amazingly fail to take out the Super Snake, iPad girl finally works out what’s going on. (It has to do with her wealthy dad.) But why has Voight chosen Brent to advance his wildly complicated agenda? The answer to that question, delivered at the end, is astonishingly idiotic.
I would guess that Ethan Hawke takes on jobs such as this to subsidize less remunerative undertakings in the theater or in Richard Linklater films. Moviegoers might consider a more rewarding activity, as well.