Stay Away

Flimsy plot, repetitive chase sequences and a weak villain leave this action flick sputtering


“Getaway” is so inept, even its one-word title doesn’t work.

Rather than getting away from someone or something, the protagonists in this car wreck of a movie are always moving toward the main character’s kidnapped wife. Saying the protagonists are trying to “get away” from anything is like saying “Die Hard” was about a guy who’s easy to kill.

The movie is awful for other reasons as well. Imagine the thinnest, flimsiest plot you can, and know that what transpires here is at least three steps worse than your imagination.

It’s Christmas in Bulgaria (of all places), and former racecar driver Brent (Ethan Hawke) is not enjoying the holidays. After a madman (Jon Voight) kidnaps his wife (Rebecca Budig), Brent is forced to carry out a series of random tasks (think “Die Hard with a Vengeance” or, for old-schoolers, “Dirty Harry”), none of which make sense. With no reason (ever) given, Brent's forced to steal a car, drive through a crowded park, drive through an ice rink, smash into various objects and always evade police, among other things. Naturally there’s a convenient side street, alleyway or staircase every time he’s blocked in, and there are plenty of inept bad guys for him to trick into driving into a pole.

None of these adventures does anything but endanger innocent people. If Brent contacts or gets caught by the police, his wife dies. Along the way he encounters a teenager girl (Selena Gomez) who conveniently knows a lot about things there is no way she would actually know a lot about.

Apparently, writers Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker were absent the day their screenwriting class was taught that a villain needs a motive. As the story progresses, we keep waiting to be shown a good reason Brent is forced to play this game, but it never comes. Director Courtney Solomon tries to shroud the villain in mystery by not showing him in full profile, but all this does is reveal his bad teeth. You’re never scared of what he’s doing, but you are scared he'll breathe on you.

Always remember, movie friends: Action for the sake of action is not entertaining. When there’s no motive, no chemistry between the two leads and essentially no story, the action means nothing. And the action here is nonstop, to the point where you start to feel sorry for Bulgaria for having this big, obnoxious Hollywood movie ruining its streets.

All the car crashes were real — no CGI was used in crash scenes. Nearly 130 cars were wrecked during production.

It’s not long before the car crashes become repetitive and boring even as they get progressively more absurd. The lone saving grace during the action is toward the end, as a camera mounted on the front of Brent’s car follows the villain weaving through traffic for more than a minute. It’s a fascinating point of view to offer in an extended take, but it’s over too quickly to make a real impact.

With a modicum of thought, this could’ve been a 90-minute adrenaline rush, giving us one last burst of energy after a so-so summer. Instead, I cannot encourage you enough to get away and stay away. 

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