When a production benefits the Bulgarian economy as much as
Behind the wheel of that tricked-out automobile is a weary
The machinations that place them together are best left unexplained — not because of potential spoilers but because the particulars would only induce a low-grade headache.
Magna's considerable headache begins when his wife (
The customized Shelby Super Snake is rigged with cameras facing inside and out — a detail that amps the points of view available to director Courtney Solomon but doesn't make the action any more involving for the viewer.
Like a contestant in an exceptionally cruel reality show, Magna must pull off a series of ostentatious "tasks" amid a crowded Christmas-season city. He gets his instructions from the anonymous architect of the scheme via dashboard technology, a malevolent GPS: "The water truck — smash into it."
The voice is supplied by
While Magna dutifully-reluctantly mows through flocks of pedestrians, the Kid, who just happens to be a tech whiz, stops complaining long enough to hack into servers using her
On the evidence of this and his previous film, "An American Haunting," Solomon places visual effects head and shoulders above characterization. Deploying an ace stunt team led by Charlie Picerni, he plunges straight into the action and doesn't let up. The ludicrous pileup of crushed chassis, mostly from cop cars sent colliding, flying, rolling and burning, grows quickly numbing.
The human element — Hawke's efforts notwithstanding — amounts to an afterthought. Grafted-on ideas about redemption and loyalty are hokum; the only true object of love and admiration here is that Shelby.
Gomez occupies a register consisting of one note, and it's not a convincing one. Hawke has considerably more range, although when worry crosses his face, you suspect he's thinking about the script. And who could blame him, published writer that he is? If the banter in "Getaway" had some edge or dazzle or humor, the destructo-overkill might be bearable. But the wan excuse for verbal sparring in the screenplay, by first-timers Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker, has all the gleam and precision of a rusty butter knife.
A few Sofia locations are well used, but the inky nighttime palette keeps most of the sliced-and-diced action in an undifferentiated murk. Arriving as too little too late is an atypical continuous shot, racing out of the city at dawn — an inkling of a better movie and the road not taken.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense action, violence and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures, and language
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Playing: In wide release