Getaway Review

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Like last week’s Paranoia, Getaway signifies one of the last spurts of mediocre action flicks before summer officially ends- that being a kind of undefined, nebulous time frame as far as movies are concerned. Also like Paranoia, the film is an amalgamation of other, much better movies, mashed together into a homogenous mess that only an out of touch Hollywood executive would deem vaguely sellable.

Directed by Courtney Solomon (a male, in case you were wondering) of the phenomenally mediocre Dungeons & Dragons and An American Haunting, and written by Gregg Parker and Sean Finnegan, Getaway is perhaps one of the most ill conceived, generic titles I’ve seen all year. The gimmick this time around is that a lot of the action sequences and car chases are captured via dashboard cameras or cameras mounted on various parts of the car itself. The uncomfortably frenetic, migraine-inducing direction only serves to enrage and distract- and I hope you like watching the same, generic cop cars spinning out and crashing ad nauseam because that’s essentially 85 percent of the action.

Again, in reference to Paranoia, Getaway is neck and neck with the former film for  the worst-cast production of the year. Don’t get me wrong, Ethan Hawke is a perfectly decent actor, as evidenced by his outstanding work in Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. He has, however, been in some terrifically awful movies this summer including The Purge and now Getaway; things have gotten to a point where I’ve now started to wonder if he’s really hurting for cash these days. And, oh, let me stop here lest I forget the real star of the show, Selena Gomez, that chubby-cheeked, chipmunk-voiced ex-Disney starlet, whose every line of dialogue was like having molten lead poured down my ear canals and whose infuriatingly entitled, senseless antagonism coupled with the fact that she’s about as intimidating as Mother Theresa mad me want to beat her about the head with a pair of flaming boxing gloves. Perhaps I’m missing the point though, and the writers were ironically trying to make Gomez’s character the most hated fictional icon in all of cinema, but then again, it would be remiss of me to assume such sophistication of the part of the creative team when the rest of the plot is so inane.

I mentioned before that Getaway is a mixture of lots of other, better executed movies, specifically Drive, complete with toothpick munching protagonist, crossed with Transporter minus any of the charismatic action crossed with Man on Fire minus any imagination whatsoever. That’s really the result of any attempt to Frankenstein movies together like this: an unimaginative, bland mass that’s so overwhelmingly safe that it can’t justify it’s own existence.

The plot progresses essentially how you’d expect if you’ve seen even an iota of press about this movie. The straight-talking driver reluctantly teams up with the inexplicably technologically capable young ruffian, in an effort to rescue the driver’s wife who’s been kidnapped by a faceless voice who commands the duo to carry out various tasks in their automotive death machine in exchange for the aforementioned wife’s life. Would you like to know who that antagonist turns out to be? Well so would I, because after stringing the audience along on it’s meaningless little sightseeing tour, Getaway reveals that the big baddie against whom Hawke has been valiantly fighting for his life while putting up with Gomez’s insufferable antics is someone completely unrelated to the story thus far and has virtually no interest in the success or failure of Hawke’s character whatsoever. We see him for about a quarter of a second at the very end of the film as he’s walking out of a club, on a completely different continent from where the action takes place, I might add. That’s all there is. The characters have learned nothing, achieved nothing, and the action might as well have taken place on a different planet for all the good it did.

Stripped of its gimmicks that weren’t implemented all that well to begin with, Getaway is the definition of a generic Hollywood action flick, mechanically produced by the studios with the sole purpose of selling as many tickets as possible before summer is over for good. It’s a bland, unimaginative experience with terrible casting, boring action, and furthermore a shameless waste of time and money.

Rating: 1 out of 5

The Purge Review

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Occasionally, a critic will get a special opportunity to incorporate the title of a movie into a highly original and hilarious pun or box quote. This week, that pun virtually wrote itself with the arrival of The Purge. And indeed it was a purge, in as much as it evacuated it’s bowels all over the screen. BAM! And lo, my powers of clairvoyance have been proven accurate. Last Friday, I put all my eggs into the “inevitably terrible” basket, and my magnificent intellect has once again been validated.

Directed and written by James DeMonaco, The Purge tries and fails so badly at being a horror movie that you can almost hear it grunting from the strain. The striking thing about The Purge is that it’s kind of an amalgamation of other, much better horror movies. The Strangers certainly makes its influence felt, as does Funny Games, Assault on Precinct 13, and perhaps even Battle Royale. Not only does the film have almost nothing of its own to contribute, besides the damnably nonsensical premise, it fumbles every borrowed concept so badly that it almost taints the original property that it borrowed from simply by association.

Staring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey (Queen Cersei of House Lannister), The Purge follows the story of a family of four as they try to stay alive on the one night when all crime is legalized. It’s hard not to blame the actors for the copious shortcomings of the writing, but they certainly didn’t do it any favors. Max Burkholder and Adelaide Kane as the Sandin Children are perhaps the most idiotic, ineffectual characters ever written into cinema. The thoughts of the characters seem to exist in some type of hypothetical nether-plane rather than have even the remotest grounding in the events happening around them. To me, it seems as though the events taking place in The Purge would have made more sense in the same universe as Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. Indeed, if you can convince yourself that The Purge is a spiritual sequel to that film, it could begin to justify the thoughts and actions of the characters.

What you need to understand is that The Purge is just one giant plot hole, and you’ll likely exhaust yourself if you try and search for logic where there is none to be found. It’s almost like DeMarco was so busy ripping off other movies that he forgot to string together a coherent plot. It’s clear that DeMarco wanted his film to fall into the horror genre, but he seemed to have completely the wrong idea of how to go about doing it. He substitutes teeth-gritting tension for jump scares and a meaningful antagonist with a clear motive for a pretentious moron with a bullshit pseudo-political message- which is a perfect segue into my next point.

The level of unironic, straight faced thematic shoehorning here is really gut-wrenchingly terrible. I’m almost reminded of Death Race 2000, in that we’re presented with an almost transparent, thinly spread yet simultaneously impenetrable political or societal message , but at least Death Race had the decency to indulge in self parody. Not only does The Purge have no idea what it wants to say, but what it does manage to say is dropped halfway through in lieu of the only marginally more interesting action sequences and stale jump scares.

Sadly, a sequel to The Purge has already been green-lit and is now in development. Not only does this film not deserve a sequel, it doesn’t deserved even half of the profits that it made upon release. The fact that this film, as poorly written and executed as it is, made so much money, is both encouraging and extremely disheartening. However, as far as you, the moviegoer, should be concerned, The Purge is most decidedly not worth the price of admission.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Rampant Cinemania: The Purge

 

This Week: Albert Cantu, Joe Holley, Gabriel Vogel, Andrew King

Show Notes:

What We’ve Been Watching:

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 1:01 – 2:55

Carrie: 2:55 – 4:47

Mr. and Mrs. Smith: 4:50 – 4:58

The Pianist: 5:50 – 8:25

Downfall: 8:25 – 11:30

Behind the Candelabra: 11:30 – 15:15

American Psycho: 15:18 – 18:53

Now You See Me: 18:56 – 23:16

Gabe Complains About Movies: 23:20 – 25:00

The Purge Review: 25:00 – 52: 36