A good year for women on film, as exemplified in new releases The Eyes of My Mother, Miss Sloane, and more
Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
Who'd have thought spending 90 minutes in a car with Selena Gomez could be this stagnant?
A disembodied voice orders a former race car driver (Ethan Hawke) whose wife he holds hostage, and a banker’s daughter (Gomez) to do his nefarious bidding in this extended commercial for the Shelby Super Snake Mustang.
Other than fleeting close ups of eyes and teeth, the identity of the heavily-accented celebrity guest villain is withheld for a big third act reveal. Tucked away in a crowded bar, he stares into his laptop, watching as his ultimatums play out in real time.
Like a hypnotist who gets a volunteer from the audience to bark like a dog, before getting down to business, the mysterious stranger amuses himself by instructing Hawke to plow through a crowded Bulgarian market.
The trailer -- hinting that Gomez is a gang-banger out to jack Hawke’s ride -- is pure bait-and-switch. My anticipatory excitement kicked into overdrive at the thought of the former Mouseketeer showing her range by playing a street thug. Had I known upfront that the wheels belonged to Gomez and the gun pointed at Hawke’s head was her way of playing repo gal, I’d have stayed home and watched the radio.
The sight of baby-faced Gomez struggling to blurt simple lines of dialog from her chipmunk-cheeks can only amuse for so long. Too short to model, too shallow to act, the kewpie doll had best stick to her ‘singing’ career before the only ‘acting’ offer that’s put on the table is a girl-on-girl porn with Miley Cyrus.
Since when did Ethan Hawke start picking up Dwayne Johnson and Brendan Frasier’s leftovers? The guy can still act, right? It takes a tremendous amount of talent to keep a straight face while delivering screenwriters Sean Finnegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker’s painfully pedestrian dialog.
At least 70% of the film is an extended car chase, and with a dozen or so cameras affixed to its body, the souped-up sardine can does the lion’s share of the cinematography. As such, the armor-plated roadster deserves to share credit with DP, Yaron Levy.
Apparently cut together during an earthquake by an editor with a seizure disorder and bad case of the hiccups, Courtney Solomon’s Getaway is one of the most haphazardly strewn together films ever to be released by a major studio. It should be shown in every Editing 101 class as an example of what not to do.
Only one moment -- a jagged, unbroken long take that follows a car as it slaloms in and out of traffic -- towards the end of a film purportedly built for speed, left me grabbing at the armrest. Nothing that comes before or after even remotely meshes with the assured style and rock-steady tension contained in this mini 45 second roller coaster ride. Is it an outtake from another Dark Castle production or did Solomon say to Levy after watching the dailies, “Too smooth! I was hoping for something more along the lines of Cash Cab on a minefield.”
Last night, the studio rep greeted me at the door with “Getaway screening?” It was a delivery worthy of Ms. Gomez. The proper line reading would have been, “Get away! Screening!”
Reader Rating: Zero Stars
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