AT THE MOVIES - Been there, done that, with repetitive 'Getaway'

AT THE MOVIES - Been there, done that, with repetitive 'Getaway'

** "Getaway"

Desperately luring red-blooded "Fast and the Furious" fanatics with vehicular mayhem and a grown-up Disney starlet, Courtney Solomon's "Getaway" grabs inspiration from a slew of action flicks without channeling its own easygoing accessibility. With an adept male lead (Ethan Hawke, a cash-grab bypass on his Hollywood comeback tour) an actress in the midst of stamping out her good girl image (Selena Gomez) and an acclaimed actor hamming it up as a thickly-accented villain (Jon Voight) the setting is ripe for a daft but good-natured franchise. Unfortunately, Hawke plays it straight and serious, Gomez has left her sexuality on the set of "Spring Breakers," and Voight's bad guy is known only as "The Voice," as ominous as Dr. Claw. The potential for something carefree and goofy is repressed by a noisy crash-bang of close-ups and a stock narrative better suited for a set of missions in a video game.

Hawke plays Bret Magna (a name so script-y it bears repeating in full) a former NASCAR race car driver living with his wife in Sofia, Bulgaria. In the midst of trimming their Christmas tree, Magna's wife is kidnapped, and our hero receives a call from an unseen German villain (Voight) instructing him to steal a super-fancy car (a Shelby Super Snake - basically, a Ford Mustang with ridges and stripes and I know nothing about cars) and follow his demented whims or Magna's wife will die. Cameras and microphones line the interior of the car, as Magna zips through the city fulfilling our evil doer's closely monitored demands such as: smash through this, and crash into that. On a pause, a computer-hacking carjacker (Gomez) jumps into Magna's ride, and off the two travel, as they bicker and attempt to escape their predicament without ever leaving their zippy vehicle of doom.

And boy, is this a doomed script, so restless and neglected, a dusty mirror of a dozen other fan favorites carelessly slopped together and pandering for a point of reference. It's "Speed," except, no Sandra Bullock present to offer an innocent bit of sass. It's "Taken," only, Liam Neeson isn't around to kick down doors and offer a quotable quip. It's 1994's "The Chase" without the comedic chemistry of Charlie Sheen and Kristy Swanson. It's "The Fast & The Furious" sans an entire cast of lovable lunkheads led by King Cuddly, Vin Diesel. It's "Phonebooth," but SLps well SLps it's just as stupid as "Phonebooth."

Hawke has the charm to polish paltry dialogue, but he's stifled by Solomon's frantic quick cuts and blurry zooms, a method so convoluted it's hard to tell (or really care) where crashes begin and end. Gomez fares even worse as a quick-thinking whiz kid with a PG-13 potty mouth, rivaling the miscast absurdity of fighter pilot Blake Lively in "The Green Lantern."

It's the notable lack of absurdity in "Getaway" that squanders its B-movie potential. A little humor goes a long way, but Solomon seems bent on taking the artful moodiness out of "Drive" and smothering it with layers of lackadaisical action and far too many cinematic reference points. At one point, Solomon is able to compose an interesting sequence: as he mounts the camera on his star car and quietly films the whizzing chaos around it. It seems carefully crafted for a different film, and is instantly extinguished by a clunky edit or a repetitive bit of exposition. And repetition woefully clamors on, with shots we've seen before, lines we've already heard, and a movie we're already wholly familiar with. Sans Jason Statham.

Now playing at CinemaWorld, Lincoln, 622 George Washington Highway, 401-333-8676, cinemaworldonline.com .