There will be some Americans who think Sofia, Bulgaria is that actress from MODERN FAMILY. It’s the setting for the thriller GETAWAY, an unappetizing mix of TAKEN, THE DRIVER and THE BLUES BROTHERS. I lost count of the number of police cars destroyed in this movie, but it is a lot. The director is Courtney Solomon, best known for AN AMERICAN HAUNTING. This is an American Turkey, with few cinemagoers likely to gobble it up.
Ethan Hawke puts his career in reverse as Brent Magna, a name that suggests a cross between an oil company and a dormant volcano (‘magna, magma’, you see what the writers were thinking). Once a racing car driver, he failed to reach his potential and did things he isn’t proud of (DAYBREAKERS, the remake of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, THE PURGE perhaps). The villains in this movie pull his goatee. They kidnap his Bulgarian born wife – they moved to Sofia to lay low – and force him to steal a car and drive it into stuff. It’s armour plated and covered with cameras. The villains can see his every move. For his part, Brent is responsible for gratuitous destruction.
Enter Selena Gomez as The Kid. ‘You don’t even know my name,’ she says at one point to Brent and yes, I have to agree that on this evidence Gomez’s career will be fleeting. She pulls a gun on Brent, which is a bad thing to do as Hawke was in TRAINING DAY. He faced off Denzel Washington and she’s just a kid. She ends up in the car driven at high speed. It turns out the car belongs to her; Daddy bought it for her as a gift, presumably for moving to Sofia. (She probably thought Sofia, Bulgaria directed LOST IN TRANSLATION; ‘that’s pretty cool’.) Moreover Daddy runs a big bank, one with a hard drive rather than money. We know she’s the reason Brent stole the car.
You’d expect a cynical wisecracking cop to be on Brent’s tail but GETAWAY isn’t that sort of movie. The Bulgarians in this movie are anonymous. Actors, stunt people, same thing really! The voice (a well known American actor faking an East European accent) tells Brent to shoot the Kid and after five minutes I agreed with him but Brent doesn’t kill people, unless they are chasing after him at speed.
I stopped logging the locations that were decimated but they include a market, an ice rink, a temporary stage, a goods depot, but not McDonalds (no such luck). The inference is obvious: if you want to do business with America, you’ve got to clear out your old stock. So much for TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) this is turning your country into a tip.
Hawke puts his foot down multiple times but the Oscar nominated screenwriter can’t save this movie. I felt like I was watching him drive into a wall of dramatic inanity.
GETAWAY exited American cinemas pretty quickly in late August  and looks set to do the same in the UK. I think it is a bad idea pairing Hawke with a teenager. There’s no sexual chemistry and it is hard to believe that Gomez is a computer whizz. So there’s not much to watch. Hawke may get Oscar nominated for his script (with Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater) for BEFORE MIDNIGHT but he should rethink taking this sort of assignment in the future. As for Gomez, kids like to see their idols in funny, cheeky roles that show off their charisma, not buried under a baseball cap, shouting ‘oh my God, you scratched the paintwork.’ The music is very repetitive, as is the movie.
With thanks to Warner Bros. Reviewed at Warner Bros Preview Theatre, Friday 29 November 2013, 18:30.