For fans of car-crash exploitation movies that make a lot of noise but little sense, the chases in “Getaway” hit some bumps in the road, but please don’t allow that criticism to stop you from seeing it.
The PG-13 picture is one of those pedal-to-the-metal chase movies in which every detour imaginable is taken as cars with ramped-up horsepower and drivers with nerves of steel hit the streets and never stop, yield or slow down.
In “Getaway,” a retired race-car driver, Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke), learns that his wife has been kidnapped. He’s being pressured by a mysterious man (Jon Voight) to follow orders that will guarantee her safety.
Magna keeps up with events inside a gorgeous Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Super Snake, and he gets help from a rich teenage girl (Selena Gomez) who’s named The Kid and decides to go along on the wild ride. Although her spunky tough-girl persona is thin, Gomez proves to be an exceptionally good sport in a crash-crazy plot.
“Getaway” often resembles a slick video game more than a gritty motion picture, but director Courtney Solomon (“An American Haunting”) seems to simply want to have some screen fun without taking the action too seriously. He certainly succeeds.
Solomon also knows how to use the former teen favorite Hawke, who plays a man who willingly risks his life so that his kidnapped wife might survive the night.
Recently, Hawke has been doing some gritty films, such as the horror thriller “Sinister,” the modern vampire tale “Daybreakers,” and most recently, the unsettling home-invasion chiller “The Purge.” The 42-year-old actor also ranks as an art-house favorite thanks to the relationship trilogy “Before Sunrise” (1995), “Before Sunset” (2004) and “Before Midnight” (2013).
Some might accuse Hawke of wasting his talents on commercial exploitation films, but that seems harsh. Hawke may drive around in circles during much of “Getaway,” but he never phones it in while delivering some fast-and-furious moments guaranteed to make fans of such fare happy.
Postscript: Numerous car-chase thrillers are readily available. Those interested in the genre might consider Peter Yates’ “Bullitt” with Steve McQueen; William Friedkin’s “The French Connection” with Gene Hackman; Friedkin’s “To Live and Die in L.A.” with William Petersen; Hal Needham’s “Smokey and the Bandit” with Burt Reynolds; Walter Hill’s “The Driver” with Ryan O’Neal; John Frankenheimer’s “Ronin” with Robert De Niro; and Richard C. Sarafian’s cult favorite “Vanishing Point” (1971 version) with Barry Newman.