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Getaway Blu-ray Review

Getaway (2013) movie poster Getaway

Theatrical Release: August 30, 2013 / Running Time: 90 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Courtney Solomon / Writers: Sean Finegan, Gregg Maxwell Parker

Cast: Ethan Hawke (Brent Magna), Selena Gomez (The Kid), Jon Voight (The Voice), Rebecca Budig (Leanne), Paul Freeman (The Man), Bruce Payne (Distinguished Man), Ivailo Geraskov (Detective), Dimo Alexiev (Henchman #1), Slavi Pavlov (Henchman #2), Deyan Angelov (Henchman #3), Kaloian Vodenicharov (Head Valet), Danko Jordanov (Car Driver)

Own "Getaway" on Blu-ray, DVD and HD Digital Download 11/26 / Buy from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

It's incredibly easy to forget that Ethan Hawke began as a child actor. That forgettable past may be one of the keys to him having one of the most successful acting careers to start in childhood. Hawke made Explorers near the start of his teens and Dead Poets Society near the end of them, neither a big enough deal to have to live down or attempt to live up to.
Thus, the transition into adulthood seemed pretty smooth, with him enjoying steady, prominent credits throughout the 1990s. Today, Hawke is in an enviable position, able to be leading man in mainstream fare like Sinister and The Purge, but also free to do some creative heavy lifting, as a writer and star of Richard Linklater's Before... series and a director and performer on Broadway's stages.

Getaway teams Hawke with a new generation's child actor, Selena Gomez, who is in the midst of trying to transition into adulthood. Having turned 21 over the summer, Gomez is at the age when many Disney starlets start to fade from sight. She has attempted to buck that tradition by starring in three major movies this year. March 15th saw the theatrical release of Spring Breakers, an exploitative arthouse girls-gone-wild flick that seemed to shatter the squeaky clean image she had been cultivating. Not altogether abandoning her young fan base, the same day also brought the Disney Channel premiere of The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex, which found Gomez reprising her star-making role back in TV-G land. Then it was back to the big screen for Getaway, a PG-13 action vehicle that was torched by critics and avoided by the public.

With a whimper, this nonstarter would end the 14-year partnership between Joel Silver's genre-minded production house Dark Castle Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures. Dark Castle had already found a new distributor back in 2012 and the writing was on the wall long before that, as the label produced a string of modestly-budgeted fare that flopped hard in theaters, if it even got there.

Selena Gomez and Ethan Hawke play strangers commanded to drive around Sofia, Bulgaria in the action thriller "Getaway."

Getaway introduces its thin story in fragments: a Christmas home invasion, a goateed man driving fast around Sofia, Bulgaria, and a mysterious figure commanding him by phone. The goateed man (Hawke), we come to learn, is Brent Magna, a former race car driver haunted by his past. His wife has been abducted and the voice on the phone swears the only way he'll get her back alive is to perform the various tasks he is given. If Magna is caught by the police, it's over. If he tries to contact the police, it's over. And so on.

Around fifteen minutes in, Gomez appears as seemingly an armed carjacker. In fact, this young woman is the owner of the souped-up Shelby SuperSnake that Magna has been ordered to drive. The American daughter of the CEO of one of Bulgaria's biggest banks, the unnamed youth becomes part of the adventure when her jacking is foiled and the voice insists she remain in the vehicle, which is fitted with all kinds of transmitting cameras. Though annoying at first, the passenger proves to be valuable as a hacker, not to mention being smarter and savvier than the desperate Magna.

The accented, unknown caller, whom until the very end we never clearly see beyond his mouth and stubble (but we nonetheless can recognize as Jon Voight putting on a European accent), calmly barks outrageous directions, which Magna, against his better judgment, follows. Police are in pursuit much of the time, but Magna improbably loses them again and again. Meanwhile, he and The Kid put their heads together to figure out what the man commanding them is after.

In one of many instances where he seems to the cornered by the cops, Magna finds a way to escape. Spoiler alert? The shrouded, unshaven face of the unknown caller belongs to Jon Voight putting on a European accent.

The first writing credit of Sean Finnegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker, Getaway is founded on a fairly creative concept. It's like Phone Booth on wheels with an element of Taken and echoes of Speed.
A feature-length car chase is a tough act to pull off, for the most part, that's what this attempts to do. We rarely step outside the Shelby or really get to know anyone besides the two in the car, their anonymous commander, and, in glimpses, Magna's kidnapped wife (Rebecca Budig).

Picking up only his third directing credit in thirteen years, Courtney Solomon (Dungeons & Dragons, An American Haunting) does what he can to keep the action and suspense running for 90 minutes. The opening scenes alone have Magna drive through the lights, decorations, and crowds of a Christmas market and skating rink. Combating claustrophobia and tedium, the film is presented in a wide assortment of views, including a number of mounted dashboard cameras (the surveillance aspect of the plot undoubtedly eased production and maximized coverage). The film also doesn't shy from occasionally slowing down to let Magna and The Kid talk about this predicament they're in.

While the execution is relatively involving, the premise is inevitably stretched thin. The film raises so many questions and answers so few of them, especially at its illogical conclusion. For instance, if all it would take is one flat tire to end this, why doesn't any one of the countless police cars encountered think to try to disable the vehicle in this fashion? Of course, we're not supposed to want that because our sympathy lies with Magna and his passenger, but it's tough to suspend disbelief to the extent required.

You never get the sense that Hawke is phoning in a performance or making a mainstream movie for a paycheck. While he doesn't have much to do here beyond react to a voice, look exasperated, and voice exposition, he performs all those tasks admirably. Gomez is a lot less effective. Instead of giving the movie the performance it needs, she just provides the kind of acting that's acceptable in a children's sitcom. She isn't the slightest bit convincing as a would-be car thief or a car buff or a brilliant hacker. In fact, it's tough to believe she's anything but a Disney Channel starlet, which at least equips her for the spoiled rich girl part of the role. Gomez's casting seems like a serious deterrent to this film's success. Her female fan base isn't likely to have any interest in this and meanwhile action fans will find it difficult to buy her in such a movie. She may be one of the most famous twentysomething actors out there, but Gomez softens this and dumbs it down instead of demonstrating some newfound range.

It might not be fair to place much of the blame on Gomez, but nonetheless Getaway did fail at the box office, grossing just $10.5 million domestically in over 2,000 theaters. Even on a reasonable reported budget of $18 M, this still falls firmly in flop territory, a territory known all too well by Dark Castle (e.g. Splice, Whiteout, and this year's Bullet to the Head).

Too insignificant to even warrant one of their standard combo packs, Warner will release Getaway on Tuesday in single-disc DVD and single-disc Blu-ray, each equipped with an UltraViolet code.

Watch a clip from Getaway:

Getaway: Blu-ray Disc + UltraViolet cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($28.98 SRP) and on Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Getaway looks snazzy in the Blu-ray's fine 2.40:1 presentation. The picture's variety reflects the assortment of cameras used, some of them quite cheap. The effect is not disagreeable and the prevailing style has the polish you look for in modern films, staying sharp and clean, while sporting cinematic color and contrast. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix is expectedly engaging, delivering the bevy of screeches and crashes with suitable impact, fitting directionality, and level dynamics.

"Crash Cams" shows us just how many cameras were running to capture the action. Selena Gomez, kid, discusses what she likes about this movie.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Getaway's Blu-ray is fitted with five extras,
each of which is given "Behind the Scenes" designation. While that seems like more than you'd expect for such a minor film and clear-cut flop, know that comical pains have been taken to reach that count. Each short runs just over a minute and largely exists to dispense one stat about production. Altogether, there's about 3 minutes of unique content here, once you deduct for film clips and overlaps. Regarding the latter, we hear the same Ethan Hawke remark in three of the five shorts: "This movie, you can tell some metal was scraped against some asphalt." Catchy, yes, but it sure loses impact repeated in such succession.

"Crash Cams" (1:12) explains that 18-42 cameras were rolling on every take, with most shots numbering in the high 20s. "Destroying a Custom Shelby" (1:06) reveals the filmmakers worked with Shelby to have a custom car made just for this production. "Metal and Asphalt" (1:09) notes that 130 cars were wrecked during production. "Selena Gomez: On Set" (1:19) lets others talk the actress up (showing his age, producer Joel Silver amusingly refers to her and Hawke as "two really great hot young people"). "The Train Station" (1:03) focuses on one of the busier sequences, with crew members boasting they used all practical effects.

The disc opens with an UltraViolet promo and a trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Regrettably but typically, Getaway's own trailer is absent. It would have nearly doubled the disc's bonus content.

The silent, static menu utilizes a wide poster art's design. Though it doesn't let you set bookmarks, the disc does resume unfinished playback of the film.

The only thing joining the plain silver disc inside the unslipcovered eco-friendly keepcase is an insert with your code and directions for redeeming the Flixster UltraViolet presentation of the film included with your purchase.

By the way, it's not the lack of a DVD but the Dark Castle label that seems to bump this Blu-ray's list price $6 beneath Warner's usual new movie pricing, based on how The Apparition hit stores exactly a year ago, with its combo pack also sold with that reduced tag.

In "Getaway", Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) gets a phone call commanding him on the only way he'll get to see his abducted wife alive again.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Not the unmitigated disaster that its rank reviews and box office flopping suggest, Getaway nonetheless can't overcome the obvious limitations of its admirably bold design. There's a reason why few film car chases dare to run longer than a few minutes.
Past that, their impact is diminished. This film finds creative ways to capture its automotive action with variety and versatility, but the narrative isn't strong enough to sustain it, not when it crumbles under the slightest bit of scrutiny. It also could have used a stronger actress or at least one better suited to the genre.

With its lack of a DVD and one of the lightest extras collections assembled, Warner's Blu-ray release seems to understand and accept that it's destined for few collections. The disc isn't easy to recommend even with heavy discounting because the movie doesn't seem to be one you'll want to see more than once. Having said that, the movie is a little better than the bum wrap it got and if your expectations aren't all that high, you might find it an okay rental. At least it's different and less generic than a lot of action flicks.

Buy Getaway from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Ethan Hawke: Before Midnight Dead Poets Society White Fang Brooklyn's Finest
Selena Gomez: Monte Carlo Ramona and Beezus Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie Princess Protection Program
New: Paranoia Man of Steel Fast & Furious 6 Violet & Daisy Cars Pain & Gain (Special Collector's Edition)
Jon Voight: National Treasure National Treasure: Book of Secrets Glory Road Transformers Varsity Blues
Dark Castle Entertainment: Unknown Orphan The Apparition The Factory
Drive Angry Drive A Good Day to Die Hard Jack Reacher

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Reviewed November 22, 2013.



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