I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Getaway

tn_getawayEthan Hawke started out as a promising child star, kinda like River Phoenix, who he co-starred with in EXPLORERS. He was a pretty big deal in DEAD POETS SOCIETY, right? Then he became Hollywood’s Gen-X guy in REALITY BITES and he’s from Austin so he hooked up with Richard Linklater and he starred in GATTACA and he did the Alfonso Cuaron version of GREAT EXPECTATIONS and later he actually got nominated for best supporting actor for TRAINING DAY (even though honestly he was the lead). So he had a good run as a pretty respectable actor.

Then at some point he said “Fuck it” and decided he was gonna do a bunch of genre movies, mostly ones with ridiculous premises. I think DAYBREAKERS is a real under-the-radar gem all around, regardless of Hawke’s participation, but SINISTER and THE PURGE are corny movies elevated by his commitment to the roles. I think he’s got a little Kevin Bacon in him. If he signs onto a movie about a dumb looking demon who haunts super-8 home movies and children’s drawings or whatever he’s gonna give it equal or greater effort than what he did in SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS. I respect that. I like him.

mp_getawayThis time it’s not a numbskulled horror premise but a low budget, high concept action thriller type deal. I would be surprised if they didn’t try to get Jason Statham at first, because Hawke plays a former professional race car driver turned getaway driver (or something) whose wife is mysteriously kidnapped and he’s forced to steal a car that is equipped with cameras and computers and then a voice on the dashboard phone (John Voight, ANACONDA) tells him what to do, mostly drive around fast and crash into cars and not get caught by police. So it’s kinda like 12 ROUNDS meets… I don’t know, VANISHING POINT or something. Or THE CHASE with Charlie Sheen, ’cause also he ends up with Selena Gomez (SPRING BREAKERS) in the car and he can’t let her go or The Voice is gonna kill his wife. Feed her to a snake or something.

It’s funny being a guy who writes about pop culture on the internet, but every second of the day, in my opinion, I get one second older. And the world, and especially pop culture, and especially especially internet culture, are very youth-centric. So sometimes I feel like I’m slowly floating away from it like Sandra Bullock in space. I think most of the writers on websights now are of younger generations than me and if not most of them have less shame than I do about being a grown man in a world where maybe it is helpful to learn about what books are now popular for 12 year old girls that might be turned into a movie. I’m way past being a guy who has to know what the songs are playing on the radio or who that is on the awards show or what that funny meme is on the internet that the other meme is commenting on. I’m too Danny Glover for that shit.

Thankfully I ‘ve so far avoided a hit-whoring stage of my internet career, so I only write about what I think is interesting. If I try to learn about something that’s popular, like HUNGER GAMES, it honestly is sort of a “this will be fun, people might enjoy this” type of attitude than what I call the “I’LL SUCK YOUR DICK FOR A HIT” desperation I see any time I browse. Come on mister, have a heart, look at my lists and slideshows and exclusive junket tidbits and shit. I have a plan some day to actually sit down and try to watch the TWILIGHT movies, because they sound pretty funny, but luckily I haven’t felt like it was a necessity to learn what that was all about in order to stay in business. (since I don’t got that much business.) It’s okay to let some shit go. But it’s hard not to hear about it.

I bring this up because who the fuck is Selena Gomez? People say the name like I’m supposed to know, and I have this sense that she is some kind of children’s programming star, I believe of the Disney Channel variety. But I’m torn between two mentalities:

1) it would take like 30 seconds to look her up on wikipedia

2) I am a grown man and I think I’ve earned the right to not have to know some of this shit

I did remember that she was in SPRING BREAKERS. For a second I also thought maybe SUCKER PUNCH, but remembered that was the other girl, Hudgens. In SPRING BREAKERS she’s pretty good and in this she’s fine, I got no problem with her acting, but the apparent superstar status is surprising. Hopefully she’s not a sex symbol, since she has a big round head and looks like a little girl. But on Thanksgiving I saw her doing a half time show and that’s when I learned she was a “multi-platinum recording artist.” You can’t tell me adult football fans are supposed to like the computerized singing she’s lip synching to so I gotta guess it’s gotta be the hip-shaking they’re selling us. Kinda creeps me out.

Like I said, Hawke was a child star too. And Gomez is already making good decisions doing a crazy Harmony Korine movie, so she could become an interesting actor like him too, and without cheating on Uma Thurman. But I fear it’s more likely the poor girl will get a drug addiction or blow a guy on a video or get slightly chubbier and receive the ceremonial societal stoning that pop culture grooms little girls for. And I don’t want no part in that so don’t take this tangent as a criticism of her existence. I just wish I could stay connected enough to love and write about movies but disconnected enough to not have had to ask a teenager what the deal was with Selena Gomez and find out she’s famous because she used to date Justin Bieber. And I’d like to live in a world where if that happened I would be able to say “Who’s Justin Beaver?”

 

Gomez (SPRING BREAKERS) plays one of these unlikely characters who are pretty standard in not-great movies. At first you think she’s a carjacker, which is funny in itself, because wearing a cap and a hoodie don’t make her babyface look intimidating. Then you find out that the badass customized car actually belongs to her and she thinks she’s getting it back from a car thief at gunpoint. It turns out she’s the daughter of an investment bank CEO and knows all about cars but also is a computer expert who carries a tablet and smart phone and knows how to type in code to break into computer networks and spews alot of lines about IP addresses and camera feeds and what not. She’s Justin Long in LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD without the jokes. She refers to graduation, I’m not sure which one. By her looks I’d say high school so this computer knowledge doesn’t come from going to technical college, it’s just how these kids are today with their gizmos and doodads and shit, am I right?

We just get thrown into it, we don’t get to see either of them in their normal lives and it’s a mystery who is doing this to them and why. I knew it was Jon Voight playing the villain, but they act like they’re trying to hide it. They keep showing him monitoring the situation from behind his laptop in a restaurant somewhere, but you just see a shot of a ring on his finger or a closeup of his mouth, never his whole face. It seems like a legit artistic choice for those scenes but near the climax he’s supposedly driving a car with Gomez in the passenger seat, and we just keep hearing his voice and seeing her doing a selfie with her phone, never once showing him. It’s kinda comical because you realize when they finally do show his face in one shot at the very end that he probly was only on set for an afternoon.

I’m pretty sure the whole movie is built around ideas like that about how to make a movie on the cheap. It’s part of the plot that the car has GoPro cameras mounted on it, therefore they have an excuse to frequently cut to low quality footage from the same angles: hood of the car looking at Hawke, next to the front-left wheel looking at street, etc. Some scenes are built around footage from a phone, tablet or laptop. And isn’t it weird that these two Americans are living in Sofia, Bulgaria, coincidentally a place where low budget movies are filmed?

Other movies filmed in Sofia:

BATS: HUMAN HARVEST
BEHIND ENEMY LINES II: AXIS OF EVIL
BLOODSPORT 4: THE DARK KUMITE
BRIDGE OF DRAGONS
COMMAND PERFORMANCE
DAY OF THE DEAD (2008 unwatchable remake)
THE EXPENDABLES 1-3
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 2
MEGA SNAKE
NINJA
THE SHEPHERD: BORDER PATROL
STAG NIGHT
SUBMERGED
THE TOURNAMENT
WRONG TURN 3 & 5

Voight does some kind of accent, not as delightfully as in ANACONDA, but odd enough that I occasionally thought he might be imitating Tom Hardy as Bane. I mean that as a compliment.

To his credit, Hawke seems to be on set and invested the whole time. He must’ve gotten sick of sitting in a driver’s seat pretending to duck or yell “Damn!” or “Are you okay?” But if so he doesn’t let it show. He’s a true professional.

By the way his character is named Brent Magna, so that’s pretty cool. Nobody else has names, it’s “The Girl” and “The Voice” and I guess we do know that his wife’s name is Leeanne. Too bad she’s not just “The Wife,” because it would be cool to have a movie where the only name ever used is Brent Magna.

I dig the simplicity of it, that you don’t really see their lives other than what they talk about, and you never really find out that much about anyone. But filmatistically it’s not elegant enough to really pull it off well. The constant car chasing and crashing is not real hard to follow but not all that involving either, and using all the consumer level cameras seems more like an insulting short cut than a clever gimmick. They do bother to get some establishing shots but maybe not enough, or they’re not cut together that great. At one point they have a long uninterrupted POV shot of the Magnamobile chasing The Voice’s vehicle at high speeds, but it’s not exactly TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. or nothing ’cause all they do in that part is drive straight. As soon as there’s a roadblock ahead it cuts, so you don’t feel like you’re involved in any close calls like, say, that opening chase in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION.

The ending I think is supposed to be a SAW type thing where the villain arrogantly walks away, that part was pretty funny. But for this to have been truly memorable it would need a more Renny Harlin-ish embracement of this type of ridiculousness. It’s clear from the very beginning that this is not gonna be a plausible real world thriller, so we need more craziness. To its credit, it does involve a mastermind planning car accidents to block particular streets in order to create a specific traffic route that he needs, or something. Like the kid said about “anarchy” in TALLADEGA NIGHTS, “I don’t know what it means, but I love it!”

The director is Courtney Solomon, who I guess is much hated for directing the DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS movie and creating the After Dark Horror Fest thing. But he’s also responsible for After Dark Action, which gave us DRAGON EYES and EL GRINGO, so I can’t be mad at him. In fact, he also has executive producer credits on both of the John Hyams UNISOL movies. So he can’t be that bad.

I’d heard GETAWAY was terrible. I don’t agree but not enough to really defend it. The simple premise is the kind of thing that could be a great b-movie, and it’s not. But it’s enough to make it watchable, and that’s better than nothing. I hate watching unwatchable movies. Too contradictory.



You know what though? Put a “The” on the beginning of that motherfucker and you got yourself a movie!


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 2nd, 2013 at 2:38 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

33 Responses to “Getaway”

  1. Ugh, El Gringo was shite, now there’s an unwatchable film.

  2. After the out of left field commercial success of The Purge and the brilliant artistic triumph of Before Midnight, 2013 almost had the summer of Hawke. Too bad he wasn’t able to stick the landing with Getaway. So close.

  3. EL GRINGO was not shite, it was highly watchable,quirky and gave some shots of Adkins greatness. I liked it. It also had Christian Slater in a good role. I´d say After Dark has delivered some good lowbudget fun, since Hyams DRAGON EYES was also very interesting.

  4. I came SO close to seeing this at the cinema. When I checked “Rotten Tomatoes” it had a 3% rating. And I know you can’t always go by that, but still… that’s pretty bad. I don’t generally watch movies I know will be terrible unless they’re “Movie 43”, so I decided to skip this one.

    I also have never quite “gotten” Selena Gomez, but I’ve never found her particularly objectionable either. Can’t imagine her playing a street-savvy car thief (or even a car owner disguised as one).

    RBatty – thanks for the appreciation of “Before Midnight”. I’ve been trying to persuade everyone I know to see that film since I saw it in the cinema myself, but nobody’s buying it.

    And “Sinister” was very good indeed. I could’ve done without the standard “walking around the house at night being haunted by the ghosts of dead children” thing (seriously, such a cliche by now) but the scoring was absolutely first-rate and I loved the structure and the main characters of the film.

  5. If this After Dark guy is the same one who did the After Dark Originals horror films, then he’s a bit inconsistent. Two of the eight horrors were really good ones, Husk and Seconds Apart. The other six or so I couldn’t recommend.

  6. Darren — Solomon created the festival and produced some of the films (including HUSK and SECONDS apart) but didn’t direct any of them. His only director credits are this, the boring AMERICAN HAUNTING, and the hilariously stupid but still pretty dull DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS.

  7. Paul – I absolutely love the Before trilogy. I think it’s one of the smartest examinations of love and romance in film. I also like that the third film sort of pulls the rug out from under the viewers who overly romantacized the Jesse and Celine relationship. Every installment has its charms, but arguably they also get better as they go along. I know that these things don’t matter, but I kind of hope that Before Midnight gets a best picture nod just to expose more people to these movies. Still, they’re a hard sell. If you tell people that they’re just an hour and a half of two people conversing, then they’re usually going to run in the other direction.

  8. Cheers Mr S. I remember he was hyping another horror called Re-Kill, which wasn’t released on DVD with the others. There was a preview for it and they were saying ‘coming soon to cinemas’. That was two years ago. I never expected it to get a cinema release here in Australia, but it still hasn’t even come out on DVD here. I’m curious if anyone’s seen it and if it lived up to the hype?

  9. I really liked this one, actually, was surprised by all the vitriol in the reviews. Just a straightforward, minimum-bullshit b-movie. Yeah, it’s silly, but the car chases were clearly shot and featured very little, if any CGI, and Hawke held the center really well. Also, they drive through a fireball at one point, which I think is sort of a lost art these days amongst action movies.

  10. I like that there are people seriously and enthusiastically discussing both Linklater’s Before trilogy and the After Dark films on the same thread. That’s why this place is the best film site on the internets.

  11. SINISTER was my big horror surprise of recent years. I had no idea what it was about for the longest time, but there were posters and billboards (some of them electronic and Avid-farty) of it all over the place so I started calling it PHOTOSHOP PLUG-IN: THE MOVIE because it seemed to be about inky black CG smudges that kill people. Then I finally said fuck it and watched it all alone late at night and it kinda creeped me out. Hawke was excellent, totally committed to the part of a prick who puts his family in danger for a shot at fame and fortune, without any actorly vanity trying to get me to sympathize with him. Somehow, it made it scarier knowing this guy had bought and paid for his own inevitable downfall. And Paul’s right about the score (more the entire sound design, really) which did every single thing I hate about modern horror soundtracking (unmotivated creaks, drones, and whirs all over the place, not a theme or even a melody to speak of, so much atmosphere it feels like you’re choking on it) but it worked like gangbusters. (Do gangbusters work really hard? Why is that a thing?) I know that demon whoseywhatsit thing was sorta cheesy in an Insane Clown Posse kind of way, but for some reason it got to me. I just did not like that guy at all. If he started showing up in my family pictures, I would get a new family. Not worth the risk.

    Anyway, all this to say that I almost saw GETAWAY in the theater but talk of the spazzy editing scared me off. Same thing almost happened with HOMEFRONT which all the reviewers singled out as an unwatchable mess but I thought was a serviceably shot and cut example of the new action standard. Maybe I’m getting inured to this post-action shit, just when the rest of the world is finally pulling its head out of its ass and realizing the shambles our precious cinematic language is in. It’ll be like when the Republicans finally admit to global warming a year after the rest of us have bought extra sunscreen and decided to make the best of it.

  12. The only TWILIGHTs I’d consider watching are the ones with Michael Sheen in them, because he does look to be in full mega-acting mode with his performance
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a85YOCyF58g

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7kT0qiv78s

  13. Dragon Eyes was great, but i still stand by my “El Gringo = shite” statement. It was just shoddy, shoddy stuff. Adkins was enjoyable and there were a couple of decent action sequences, but i thought it was very disappointing. Christian Slater was fun, definitely. And that Dolph Lundgren After Dark film, Stash House, good lord, it was terrible. I kinda went off them after those two turkeys.

  14. I still say don’t put cameras on the car, point cameras at the car. The 15 GoPros were indeed the gimmick that got this movie made cheaply, but they render all the practical stuntwork shitty-looking. True, they’re not as bad as shaky cam, but they don’t cut together to show you who’s crashing into whom and why.

    I had the weird experience where I could sort of infer what real action was accomplished, so I wasn’t bored and didn’t hate it, but also there’s nothing to defend about it. As my colleague said, I shouldn’t have to work that hard. The footage should be there on the screen, not in my head.

  15. The BEFORE trilogy aren’t really obscure indie darlings are they? I was under the impression they were huge, well-received hits. Not as popular as an IRON MAN, but still quite popular, particularly with an older audience. I know a lot of people who couldn’t wait for the third one.

    Last year I overheard a bunch of teenage girls talking about how much they wanted to see SPRING BREAKERS. I thought it was pretty cool that some kids were excited about a Harmony Korine movie, but I guess it was due to Selina Gomez and whoever else was in it. I’m at a stage in my life where I’ve stopped paying attention to that stuff altogether. Thanks to the internet I don’t ever listen to the radio or watch commercial TV. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard a song by One Direction or Justin Bieber or whoever. Sometimes I’ll hear a song on the radio and think “wow, that’s really irritating” and I find out later that it’s massive hit and it’s sold a billion copies. On the internet it seems like you’re supposed to have an opinion on everything, but I’m perfectly happy living in my little cultural bubble.

    That said, I’d recommend you watch at least some of the TWILIGHT series, Vern. It’s not exactly good and a lot of it boring, but while watching it you get that feeling that it’s way more revealing about the author’s psyche than she might have intended. There are some weird gender politics in that series, particularly in the later entries where they introduce more crazy shit, like werewolves falling in love with babies. The final fight at the end of the last movie (invented purely for the film because the books dodge potentially awesome action scenes like Neo dodges bullets) is genuinely awesome. The true hero of the TWILIGHT series is Bella’s dad Charlie. That dude puts up with a lot of shit. Team Charlie all the way.

  16. Wait, I thought INSIDIOUS was the one with the ICP demon. Is it SINISTER? THE CONJURING? INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2? I can’t keep these horror-movies-for-people-who-don’t-really-like-horror-movies straight.

  17. don’t feel too old Vern, at least when it comes to the internet, I’m 24 and I joined this crazy internet party in 2006 (which makes me a relative newcomer I guess?) and already I feel like I’ve lost the plot, the net has changed so much since I first arrived, all this Twitter and Facebook and Intsagram etc shit, it’s all Greek to me…

    chalk it up to how fast our culture evolves in this day and age, I mean in a general way we’re living in the “Obama years”, which started about 5 years ago, but you can divide the last 5 years into even smaller periods, for example we’ve had a “cultural phenomena” (Twilight) rise and fall and a pop singer go from being huge to a ridiculous washed up has been (Justin Beaver) all in just the last 5 years

  18. Crustacean Hate – My experience has been that people have heard of these movies out there on the periphery, but few will actually sit down and watch them. I mentioned going to see Before Midnight to a room full of movie goers, and not a single one of them had actually watched one of the Before movies. They were aware of them, but I think the idea of watching movies where two converse with one another was a complete turn off. And these are people who watch a lot of movies, some of which could be described as “arty.”

  19. Stu— REALLY? After his superb performance as a werewolf (“lycan”) in Underworld, I wanted to beat Sheen with a wooden stake for going full-ponce as a vampire in the Twilight movies. He’s the Tiny Tim (the ukulele-playing 1960’s singer, not the endearingly irritating rugrat from A Christmas Carol) of that particular series.

    Crusty— Fuckin’ A right. TYVM to whoever cast Billy Burke as Charlie Swan. I’m quite sure all that dry humor that Burke brought to the role wasn’t in the book; that was all him. It made the slack moments of those movies a lot more bearable.

  20. TWILIGHT is dumbfoundingly hilarious. It’s like a vampire movie as interpreted by alien unicorns. It’s worth a watch just for the experience. Haven’t seen any of the others, though.

  21. I think I’ve watched a total of twenty minutes of all the Twilight films. Each time I could feel my brain cells being sucked outta my head, and not in a good way like watching an obscure Charlie Sheen car chase and sex-in-the-front-seat movie.

  22. My girlfriend made me watch the first Twilight movie. She is now my ex-girlfriend.

  23. I just find it weird that in just a span of 5 years Twilight could go from a big fucking deal to no one gives a shit

    they’re also probably the worst movies ever to become a mainstream hits

  24. Ethan could have been a huge star. The problem was he had a little Edward Norton in him before Norton came on the scene. In other words, he was a major pain in the ass. After Reality bites he could have wrote his own ticket in Hollywood. He could have had any project he wanted to be in.

    Instead he chose not to play the game and instead went and wrote an actual book. It was a piece as shit of course and went no where. So what happened next you say? Well, another crop of young, hip wannabe’s were right behind him and didn’t mind taking those roles Hawk bristled at.

    Next thing you know guys like Brad Pitt, Matt Damon et al. had no issue taking what the studios gave them. Essentially, the studios do what they always do, they find somebody else to take their place.

  25. I would love to read a Vern review of Twilight, but at the same time I would feel bad if he actually sat through one of the movies simply to write a review for us. So I agree with you, Vern, and your stance on not going after whatever shitty pop-culture blip is on the radar at the moment. I personally have no interest at all in Lady Ga Ga (not that she is shitty; she seems like this generation’s female David Bowie, and that’s cool, but I grew up digging the original David Bowie, so she’s redundant for me personally). When I happened to mention this to a younger intern in conversation, her mind was boggled BECAUSE LADY GA GA. And I was like, “Someday you will get to be my age and you won’t give a shit about pop culture any more. And it is glorious.”

  26. CrustaceanHate – The whole trilogy grossed about thirty million or so … Huge, well-received hits usually make more money than that. They’re small, intimate movies about two people talking.

    I’ve only seen the first one (taped it off the local artsy movie channel, so there’s that) but it was part of the “this hangover is killing me and I wish I had a girlfriend who doesn’t live 10 hours away” collection of my late teenage years, along with Leaving Las Vegas and Dead Man. Ah, the 90s. I guess I should check out the sequels sometime.

  27. Illinois Smith/RBatty: That’s a shame, I guess they aren’t as popular as I thought. Like I said, I live in a cultural bubble. I guess I know a lot of Linklater fans.

    I don’t think the TWILIGHT series is particularly good, but I think it attracts vitriol way out of proportion to its (lack of) quality. Partly because it’s specifically targeting teenage girls in a way that’s really unusual in popular culture and it makes people uncomfortable. A lot of the criticism seems really paternal and condescending too, like how it promotes harmful messages about sex and relationships. That might be true, but when I was a teenager I saw lots of violent, fascistic action movies and I grew up okay. Why assume that teenage girls are delicate flowers that will have their fragile minds warped by entertainment?

  28. I agree CrustaceanHate. The movies/books are complete drivel, but people just need to calm down about it all. It makes me think back to when I was a teenager and my dad asked my mom if she thought they should be concerned with the amount of romance novels I was reading. She replied that they did nothing when my older brothers devoured the Conan books, so why would this be different.

  29. Illinois – I agree with the poster who said that they get better as they go along. And the first one was really good.

    The dinner scene in “Before Midnight” might be one of my all-time favorite movie scenes.

  30. I found a preview of RE-KILL from After Dark Horrors and it looks pretty good if anyone’s interested, like a cross between Dawn of the Dead, Zombieland and Southland Tales. And Scott Adkins is in it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26_fGZXseZk

  31. I watched the first Twilight on the big screen with my younger sister. We both thought it was the best comedy of the year.

  32. I was looking at a list of the 100 best movie moments of 2013 and “Getaway” showed up at #76. Apparently that long unbroken shot actually involved real traffic, aside from the two vehicles involved in the chase.

    Here’s the link with the video but beware of spoilers for other movies of course:
    http://www.film.com/movies/the-100-best-movie-scenes-of-2013/2

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>