Screenwriters of action movies can’t resist placing their protagonist into situations of “no other choice.” Such is the case for Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke), a washed up pro racecar driver who, with his wife Leanne (Rebecca Budig), left his high profile life and disappeared into domestic normality in Sophia, Bulgaria. That is until he arrives home one day to discover his wife has been kidnapped. Now he is left with no other choice—he must explicitly follow the directions of The Voice (Jon Voight), a male persona with a deep Baltic accent, who threatens to kill Leanne unless Brent fulfills his every wish.
Brent is led to a Ford Mustang (one of this year’s most overt product placements) that is (impossibly well) armored and wired for video and sound. This is to insure the driver’s every move is monitored. The voice-command speakerphone in the car is used to deliver the first mission: Drive like a madman through the streets and parks of Sofia, sending Christmas shoppers scrambling for their lives and destroying property. Reluctantly Brent steps on the gas and the carnage begins. By the time he is permitted to quit, he has also left numberless crashed cop cars in his wake.
Eventually the driver stops for a break in a deserted parking lot. That’s when contestant number two enters the scene—a nameless young girl (Selena Gomez) with a gun who demands to take possession of the car. The Voice tells Brent to shoot her, but this is one command he refuses. Instead the two become an unwitting team as they are remotely ordered to continue their horrific night of terror.
Getaway would be more terrifying if it weren’t so laughable. Certainly the dangerous driving and implied deaths and injuries of countless innocent bystanders aren’t funny, but the senseless script and desperate dialogue of this romp dilutes the expected audience reaction. Any sense of reality is thrown under the Mustang as we watch this car rip through buildings and obstacles with nary a scratch or a broken headlamp. And who can get a wireless Internet connection to perform like the one controlling this car? (It even works in underground parking lots and tunnels!) Then there’s the power station that explodes like a nitroglycerin factory and sends the city into darkness. Yet in the next scene our characters are driving down brightly lit city streets while discussing the ramifications of the continued power outage! Meanwhile, all this nonsense is smothered with brain-dead banter between the two car prisoners. But we are supposed to believe that Gomes’ character is a brilliant computer geek and gifted gear head.
For parents and teens still wondering if this title is worth their time, please note that there are depictions of shooting in addition to the bloodless carnage and continued peril throughout this film. As well, expect frequent scatological expletives, a sexual hand gesture and other profanities. Likely destined to be in that big discount box of DVDs at your supermarket in a year, this Getaway isn’t worth the drive.