Aside from, perhaps, Nicolas Cage, Ethan Hawke has the oddest résumé in film.
In his 42 years, Hawke has nabbed an Oscar nomination for Training Day, anchored the charming Before Sunrise trilogy and done a creepy sci-fi turn in Gattaca.
He's also starred in this summer's two worst films, June's The Purge, and now Getaway (* out of four; rated PG-13; opens Friday nationwide), a car-chase clunker that can't escape its own noxious emissions.
Hawke plays Brent Magna (really), a former pro race car driver who, in the first 30 seconds of the film, discovers his wife has been kidnapped by a mastermind who threatens to kill her if he doesn't go on a crime spree that includes stealing a car, robbing a bank and trying to run over kids in a skating rink (really).
As far as a set-up, that's as much as you'll get from this 90-minute migraine that wants to cross-pollinate Fast & Furious with Taken. Instead, it manages to be just a shadow of both: It's fast, though no character is developed enough to exhibit an emotion like fury; and people will get taken - audiences who open their wallets.
While Getaway smashes as many cars as a state fair demolition derby, it has less plot. Instead, it's more of an ad for a souped-up Mustang Shelby, which Hawke drives wide-eyed while an anonymous fiend (Jon Voight) watches him from remote cameras in the car like a GPS from hell, ordering Magna to smash fruit trucks and Santa's village (really).
Halfway through we meet "The Kid," (Selena Gomez), a pistol-toting computer whiz who owns said Shelby and gets caught up in the cat-and-mouse chase through the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria. Just so happens, she brought her iPad to turn the tables on her tormentor. Apparently, there's an app for that.
While Gomez shows glimpses of acting chops, she's overwhelmed by director Courtney Solomon's clunky dialogue, leaving her to bray helpful hostage hints like "Go faster!," "Lose him!" and "Gimme that gun!"
It's hard to know where to start with a movie like Getaway, whose sole purpose seems to be to hop aboard the Furious box office bandwagon. But compared to this lemon, Furious is a Scorsese franchise.
The true wonder of Getaway is how it managed to lure recognizable stars, including an Oscar nominee, an Academy Award winner in Voight (or his lower lip, which gets most of the screen time) and a tweener sensation in Gomez. The film makes a strong case that the stars were: good friends with a producer; in need of fast cash; or on the cusp of firing an agent.
Whatever the reason, moviegoers will benefit from heeding this title's advice to get away. Say this for Hawke: He has a knack for films the public wants to see. And he may be right here. But Getaway is one of his career's odder detours.