The Getaway (1994)
In Need of a Smart Alec
Do you know what is wrong with the remake of "The Getaway", it's Quentin Tarantino. Now you are probably thinking I am barking because this movie was directed by Roger Donaldson but the darkly funny crime caper would have been perfect for Tarantino or even Robert Rodriguez and unfortunately Donaldson doesn't bring it to life in that way it needs. In fact with "The Getaway" being a remake it would have helped to have a director not afraid to push the boat out with over the top action and really quirky characters because in the end "The Getaway" whilst solid lacks excitement, atmosphere and that wicked dark side which it needs.
After being left high and dry and doing time when fellow criminal Rudy Travis (Michael Madsen) leaves him at an airfield as the police swoop Doc McCoy (Alec Baldwin - Malice) wants out of prison and is willing to work for Jack Benyon (James Woods) if he can arrange his release. Unfortunately for Doc and his wife Carol (Kim Basinger - Final Analysis) working for Jack means working with Rudy again and whilst they pull of the safe job which Benyon wants doing no one can trust anyone leading to plenty of betrayal and fights as Doc and Carol try to getaway.
I have not see the original version of "The Getaway" with husband and wife Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw but going by the reviews and ratings it is a good movie. Now in fairness Donaldson's remake starring then husband and wife Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger is solid; it delivers action, shooting, robberies, sex scenes, nudity basically all the components of a typical early 90s action movie. But the trouble is that it is not exciting, it just feels like a series of cliches pieced together till eventually we get a big action climax. I think if I had been 18 and watched it when it came out the nudity, sex and action probably would have entertained but now it basically feels ordinary and lacking atmosphere or drama.
Part of the trouble is that "The Getaway" has this playful tone with elements of dark comedy such as a scene where a shot Rudy goes to a vet to have a bullet removed and he is there stroking a little kitten with a gun in his other hand. You can sense in the right hands this could have been wickedly funny and the same with other set pieces including the big climax at the hotel but instead it only feels slightly over the top. In truth it is only when Donaldson allows things to get away from him such as a sex scene between Michael Madsen and Jennifer Tilly that it actually becomes entertaining because it feels loose and more in the moment.
It is a shame because in many ways "The Getaway" is well cast with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger working well together and delivering some entertaining sex scenes as does Michael Madsen and Jennifer Tilly. Plus there is David Morse giving us sinister and a wonderful small part for Richard Farnsworth right at the end which brings a big smile to your face. But because for most of the movie it feels too scripted and choreographed all the characters end up too stiff.
What this all boils down to is that "The Getaway" isn't a bad movie, it is a solid and typical 90s action flick with the obligatory mix of sex, nudity and action. But it ends up feeling too tight, too scripted and in need of a director willing to embrace the dark humour of the story, action and characters.
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