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“Getaway” takes viewers nowhere fast

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getaway_ver3If you have read the title of director Courtney Solomon’s latest film, you already know how to react to its release.

Get away. Quickly.

This sad excuse for an action thriller has neither the action nor the thrills to make it worth anyone’s time. From the poor acting of one Selena Gomez, among others, to the preposterous “plot,” “Getaway” is nothing short of a farce.

One Christmas season in Bulgaria, retired race car driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) comes home to find his decorations smashed, glass and blood on the ground, and his wife (Rebecca Budig) missing. Brent then gets a call from a mysterious man (Jon Voight, credited as “The Voice”) telling him to follow his every instruction if he wants to see his wife again.

After he steals a swanky Shelby Mustang Super Snake – equipped with cameras and microphones so The Voice can watch Brent’s every move – he becomes victim of an attempted carjacking, the perpetrator being a wholly nonthreatening Selena Gomez (called “The Kid”). Making both subject to The Voice’s commands.

Herein lies the first problem with “Getaway:” it has a script so generic it makes “Taken 2” seem thoughtful. From The Voice’s ridiculous requests (the first involving knocking over Christmas decorations in a park for no reason other than The Voice’s apparent disdain for the holiday) to the bizarre plot twist at the end, nothing in this film has any hint of credibility.

The choppy editing was just as bizarre with too many fade-outs, close-ups, and flashbacks. It doesn’t make the story any more dramatic; but it’s in keeping with the rest of the film: silly and busy. Most of these editing blunders happen during the innumerable car chases when cameras show every car from every angle drawing out scenes to an unbearable length.

Then, of course, there are the performances. Gomez may be looking for more serious – or as she put it, “badass” – roles, but her performance as “The Kid” feels like just that: a kid, the delivery coming off amateurish and forced.

When she first meets Brent, she starts bickering with him like a whiny teen. Hawke is a bit more convincing, but the character has serious loyalty flaws. At one point, he seems more concerned about The Kid, who recently held a gun to his head, than his wife, who has been kidnapped and held hostage by Bulgarian thugs for hours (though it feels like days).

For Voight, there is no performance – just a voice-over in a thick accent only heard through the car speakers. Occasionally, we see his eyes, gnarly teeth, or his hand crushing a martini glass in anger, but these snippets add no suspense to his “big” reveal at the end.

Additionally, the Christmas theme is just unnecessary. It adds nothing, except giving Brent giant presents and Santa statues to destroy and possibly making a Christmas DVD release all too convenient. While Andy Williams’ “The Most Wonderful Time” is a yuletide favorite, making it the theme song of The Voice is uncalled for.

In the film’s defense, some of the car chases are fairly entertaining, and the stunt drivers do deserve credit for their impressive wielding behind the wheel. Nevertheless, “Getaway” can only be viewed as the kind of movie best enjoyed while making snide commentary with friends. Otherwise, it’s best value may be as a convincing commercial for the Shelby Mustang Super Snake.

* out of five

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