[img]http://i43.tower.com/images/mm124327360/getaway-ethan-hawke-blu-ray-cover-art.jpg[/img]Releasing/Participating Studio(s): Warner Bros.
Disc/Transfer Information: Region A; 1080p High Definition 2.40:1 (Original Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1); BD-25 Single-Layer Disc
Video Codec: MPEG-4
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Director: Courtney Solomon
Starring Cast: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Rebecca Budig, Jon Voight, Paul Freeman, Bruce Payne
With a rousing lossless soundtrack on Blu-ray, outstanding visuals (for the most part) and displaying a dynamic wet dream fusion of sorts between Gone in 60 Seconds and Taken, Courtney Solomon’s Getaway was a pretty exciting little action flick, I must say. I wasn’t expecting much going in, thinking this was going to be yet another of those under-the-radar, right-to-home video deals that normally stink so bad you need a year’s supply of those Little Tree car air fresheners just to get the taste out of your mouth – or, as it may be, the stench from your nose. At any rate, the film was far from boring if not quite sensational; it boasts a done-that-already style and underpinning what with the desperate man attempting to save a kidnapped child or spouse from the clutches of a madman for whatever reason (normally money) but it is saved by some effective, solid acting on behalf of Ethan Hawke in the lead as an ex-professional race car driver summoned to do the aforementioned. The action is also over the top in the film, boasting some explosive, edge-of-your-seat car chases that surpass almost everything else I’ve personally seen in the genre – think Nic Cage’s chase sequence in The Rock or Gone in 60 Seconds was exciting? Think again. Or the San Francisco chase so elaborately coveted in Bullit? The action goes far beyond that in Getaway, with director Courtney Solomon expertly filming the car sequences in such a way we can’t help but be gripped and left feeling breathless when they’re over – there’s even a brilliantly-filmed scene in which Solomon puts us in the cockpit of Hawke’s character’s souped-up Mustang Shelby and we get a bird’s eye view of the road ahead as he chases down the maniac responsible for his predicament; we actually feel like we’re sitting in the car with Hawke, screaming down city streets at volatile speeds, the effect extremely genuine and gripping.
The film sets the plot up like a quick shot to the head, instantly getting us wrapped up in the story and leaving no slow-moving, plodding backstory of any kind for us to get our heads around; immediately, we know why Hawke’s Brent Magna character is doing what he’s doing based on a strange voice that commands him (Jon Voight) through a microphone placed inside a race-ready and fortified Mustang Shelby Cobra. Through some quick flashbacks we learn that Magna, a former professional car racer, arrived home around Christmas where his wife Leanne (Rebecca Budig) was at one point decorating their tree to find her abducted violently by some mysterious men, leaving their house in shambles and instructions by Voight’s unidentified character for Magna to steal a certain Mustang that’s sitting in a underground parking lot in Bulgaria. From there, Magna is instructed to, if he ever wants to see his wife alive again, follow this voice’s instructions to the letter which end up translating to driving like a complete madman through the streets of this Bulgarian town, possibly killing innocent holiday shoppers and destroying public property and other cars alike. The mysterious voice’s plans for Magna include three stages of “runs” he must accomplish, eventually ending up at a city powerplant. But when he stops between “assignments” to take a breath after he’s caused millions of dollars in damages and has possibly injured dozens of innocent pedestrians, his situation goes from bad to worse when what appears to be a young carjacker (Selena Gomez) puts a gun to him from the passenger side door and demand he get out of the car.
The voice, being that he has wired this custom Shelby Super Snake Mustang with cameras and microphones, overhears what’s going on and demands Magna take the girl along for the ride now. As Gomez’s character kicks and screams and protests, Magna has no choice but to race away with the seemingly violent young female criminal who routinely attempts to signal to cops they pass at alarming speeds that she’s been kidnapped. As some time passes and the two get to know each other, Magna comes to learn that this young girl is actually not a carjacker but rather the owner of this special edition Mustang which she customized herself; it seems once she learned her car had been stolen she was told by police where the car was hidden (in that underground parking lot) and that someone fitting Magna’s description had taken it. Indeed, once Magna asks the girl to consider why or how police would have known exactly where the car would be and who took it, she realizes that she too may have been brought in on this kidnapping plot by the mysterious voice…it just all made too much sense. Complicating things further is the voice’s demand that Magna kill the girl because she has seen Magna’s face and heard his voice – but of course Magna can’t bring himself to do that.
Meanwhile, the mysterious voice continues to command Magna to do death-defying stunts through the streets of Bulgaria, causing more and more chaos as cops hunt him down and get injured or killed in the process, the professional driver out-maneuvering them at every corner. Every so often Magna gets to see his crying, desperate wife, tied up by the kidnappers and begging for her life. What Solomon does so expertly here in his filmmaking in Getaway is continuously build a sense of dread and sheer curiosity from the perspective of the viewer – we really, really want to know who this guy is behind what is going on and why he’s doing it. It is suggested that it all has something to do with Magna’s racing past and some people who he had dealings with, and when he explains to Gomez’s character during a brief moment of calm that he and his wife needed to come to Bulgaria to “lay low for awhile,” we get the feeling he was into something that maybe put him in this position.
As the girl, a supposed innocent victim in all this, comes to sympathize with Magna and develop a bond with him – after some rather foul-mouthed rhetoric from the owner of this wild Mustang, a gift from her father, enraged that she is in the passenger seat of her coveted ride while its thief takes them on death-defying drives – the two are eventually ordered by the voice to get to a powerplant. All the while, Gomez’s character attempts to out-wit this mysterious guy who kidnapped Magna’s wife and his henchmen through her proficiency in computers and technology. It is about here that we learn what role she may be playing in this abduction scheme when Magna learns that her father was the executive of some kind of a bank…a bank that didn’t carry traditional currency but rather digital-like bonds and such. Both Magna and the girl theorize that with each of these “assignments” the mysterious voice gives them and the chaos they leave behind from Magna’s driving, it is actually creating some kind of “escape route” out of the city – and then when they learn that the two of them must get to her father’s bank as one of the assignments, some of the plot and reasoning becomes clearer.
What’s the bottom line here? Money. Is it ever anything else? The mysterious voice (Voight) is after some digital, data-like currency from this bank and needed, it appears, Magna to use his driving skills in order to tie up all the police in the city so he can make away with this money. When looked at like this, the plot seems ridiculous and cheesy…but I suppose you just have to go with it. What else do you have to just “go with”? Well, Magna and the girl manage to steal the digital data currency while it’s being transported to the voice’s men, getting the upper hand now and enraging the kidnapper even more. Magna uses the leverage to strike a deal with the kidnapper – his wife for the currency this mysterious criminal is after. Of course, at the meeting point things go wrong and while Magna indeed gets his wife back, there is an ambush by the kidnapper’s men that culminates with Gomez’s character now being abducted by the mysterious “voice.” As Magna makes one final stand against this madman, leaving his wife in police protection and going after the head kidnapper in a deadly chase to rescue the girl that stayed by his side throughout all this, the film ends on a kind of strange, unfulfilling note – Magna ends up crashing the Mustang into what he thinks to be the kidnapper’s SUV, but when police arrive they quickly learn that driving this getaway vehicle was a decoy…and the real kidnapper is still alive and well and has the “digital money” he has stolen from Gomez’s character’s father’s bank. We hear Voight’s voice telling Magna that he is sorry he “can’t be there in person” as we watch him, somewhere else in the world, leave a holiday party of some kind with a bunch of well-dressed guests (you’ve never seen so many ridiculously short mini-dresses on gorgeous women in your life) carrying the funds he took…and that’s it. Is there supposed to be a sequel? What are we supposed to make of this? The real kidnapper got away and that’s it? Normally, these films don’t end this way; the bad guy always gets his and the hero is recognized and celebrated. In this way, Getaway fell a bit flat.
The whole notion behind the kidnapping of Magna’s wife and its motive was a bit suspect to me, as well; I mean, why go through all this to get this guy to carve an escape route out of a city if you’re that powerful of a criminal? And what was the connection between this voice (and its accompanying body, in Jon Voight) and Magna? The voice also makes some kind of comment at the end to Magna after the crash about wanting to see if the driver still had it “in him” to push limits and drive his best…or some such rhetoric, indicating this may have been someone from his past in the racing scene. But it’s never fleshed out in the end, making me wonder if there’s going to indeed be a sequel.
For what it’s worth, I thought Getaway – as did my wife – was a cool 90 minutes of fun action. The chase sequences are intense, the acting wasn’t half bad (especially from Hawke, who plays the broken down, desperate, pushed-too-far Magna convincingly) and the film was, in an overall sense, just not boring…which is quite a refreshing change. I can definitely recommend a rental.
[img]http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRK3Kc-Pdsz5K4HJOek_5GMFeDrGOOZfWlHaDqpAmD6f-c7GcvczQfX_X4URQ[/img]VIDEO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC LOOK?
The 2.40:1 1080p video transfer by Warner for Getaway’s Blu-ray debut was a mixed bag if only due to the technical elements involved – some scenes, such as the fast-moving chase sequences, were rendered with some black crush and softness in addition to exhibiting minor video noise, while others like the outdoor facial close ups came across astonishingly clear and detailed. There is a distinct sense this was a “filmed on film” production what with the fine layer of miniscule grain structure running rampant in the background of many scenes and the film’s “industrial” look in many parts; this changed gears – no pun intended – quickly when the shots were of character standing in sunlit frames, the transfer suddenly turning ultra-high-def in appearance. A good example of this is a shot of Hawke standing next to the Mustang talking to the voice that kidnapped the wife early on – the close up of his face in this scene was rendered with incredible, eye-popping detail and clarity, really showcasing what the Blu-ray format can do when handled properly.
As I mentioned, much of the film collapses into stark, black-crushed tones that make the transfer take on a soft, DVD-like look, predominantly in the night chase sequences; but for the most part, this was a nicely balanced job by Warner’s video engineers.
[img] http://cdn03.cdn.justjared.com/wp-content/uploads/headlines/2013/06/selena-gomez-points-gun-at-ethan-hawke-in-getaway-trailer-new1.jpg[/img]AUDIO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC SOUND?
If the video transfer for Getaway on Blu-ray was a “mixed bag,” then the audio track accompanying it on the Region A release was a barnstormer. Finally – we get a Master Audio soundtrack worth bragging about, albeit for a not-so-blockbuster-esque release. The Region A English DTS-HD Master Audio mix in 5.1 was astounding, fusing aggression, heft, dynamics and crystal-clear dialogue stems in a soundstage that was truly enveloping and rousing. From the very beginning, this Master Audio track rendered the searing roars of that Shelby Mustang through all channels in a startling way while the breaking of glass, steel against grinding steel and explosions of powerplants came across with punchy, visceral realism.
Surround usage was aplenty and aggressive, throwing smashing cars and screaming police vehicles this way and that through the room; the chase sequences, as expected, were the real standouts in this mix, with the smashes of damaged cars thudding in the LFE channel with tight, forceful energy and the cues of breaking pieces of automobiles as Hawke’s character destroys half of Bulgaria placed aggressively into the appropriate speakers. This was what I have been waiting for in a lossless surround mix: Slightly overcooked levels, hot surround activity, channel aggression…this track actually sounded better to me than the audio that has accompanied more recent “blockbuster” types of titles to arrive on Blu-ray as of late including World War Z, Man of Steel, Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. If you’re looking for a track you can just kick back and crank up to show off your system, look no further than Courtney Solomon’s Getaway.
Thank you, as always, friends for letting me share and for reading; please discuss if you’ve seen this or even if you haven’t. Happy Holidays to all!