Blu-ray Review: Getaway

In the mid to late 90s Ethan Hawke was primed to be a big movie star. There was a group of young male actors who seemed to be getting ready to be the next wave of genuine leading men in Hawke, Colin Farrell and Josh Hartnett (among others). Hawke came into the forefront in a film-stealing part in Reality Bites and embodied the twenty-something angst of the time in Before Sunrise. If there was an actor who was seemingly bound to become a huge star it would be him and then something curious happened.

He mainly pushed Hollywood studio projects away, like many of his peers, for a substantial career in the independent world.

While he would take a number of big budget productions over the years, Hawke has been a mainstay of the indie world for several decades now. It’s interesting that after a career that was spent being an artist that he’s opted to start doing more studio fare. What used to be a rare occurrence for the actor has now become much more of a regularity in the past couple years and if Getaway is any indicator I really hope Hawke goes back to the indie scene.

Hawke stars as Brent, a former racecar driver, is pitted against the clock when an evil villain (Jon Voight) forces him into a series of tasks with a stolen car to save his wife. Its owner (Selena Gomez) tracks him down and the two manage to team up to try and stop him before his evil plan can come to fruition. It’s essentially the sort of film you’d make if you wanted to spin off one of the main characters from Fast and the Furious into their own action film, complete with cars and rampant stupidity.

And that’s what this film is at its core: a dumb action film.

Hawke is too good for this role, which you’d think would’ve gone to someone like Nicolas Cage. Considering he starred in The Purge earlier this year, Hawke’s been a busy guy when you throw in Before Midnight to the mix. He’s clearly not interested in the material, doing just enough to not completely embarrass himself but being right at the level of “mailing it in” most actors of his talent would do for a film like this. It doesn’t demand or warrant a great performance and Hawke seems bored for the most part. This isn’t a film that’ll challenge him and he sort of sleepwalks through most of it. You can’t blame him for it, either. If you’d done a film like Before Midnight in the same calendar year as Getaway one imagines that the letdown in difficulty of the material would be enough to get you into check cashing mode.

That’s a good way to describe Hawke but the teen pop star Gomez, with whom he shares most of his screen time with, is actually given something interesting. Gomez is trying to transition her career arc from child star to adult pop star/actress and this is a great first step for her. There are two paths to go at her stage. The first is to go overly sexualized, like fellow Disney star Miley Cyrus, and try to adept the “sex kitten” motif. It flames out quickly, though, and the other path seems more appropriate: the Mandy Moore path. Moore has gone from being in the same position as Gomez into the spot Gomez is eyeing: young, serious actress/singer of some distinction. This is a step in the right direction for her and she does what she can in the part. Gomez is more talented as a singer than as an actress, relying more on presence than ability, but in a decade that scale could go the other way depending on how she develops.

This is the sort of film that Jennifer Lawrence would’ve done 10 years ago and the comparison makes sense. A decade ago Lawrence didn’t have the profile Gomez did but her talent was evident. It just needed to be honed and developed. Gomez is in that same spot; you can tell she could be great at it in the future, but right now she just needs the time to develop. This is a developmental film for her, quality reps in front of a camera where she isn’t asked to be brilliant, and for the most part she succeeds. She’s not brilliant, marginally good, but you can see the potential under the surface.

The film itself is borderline laughable for the most part. Even by action film standards it’s fairly unintentionally hilarious for large portions but it’s oddly watchable. It’s the perfect rental but nothing more

There are a number of EPK pieces included but nothing extraordinary.

Warner Bros. presents Getaway . Directed by Courtney Solomon. Written by Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker. Starring Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Rebecca Budig, Jon Voight. Running time: 90 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released: November 26, 2013.

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