The Getaway (1994)

"It's been my experience that having friends is overrated." - Michael
Madsen on trust

Though flat as the proverbial pancake, Roger Donaldson's THE GETAWAY is
the best alternative, yet, to a season overloaded with oppressive drama.
In the wake of everything from Vietnam to the Holocaust, this throwaway
Basinger/Baldwin vehicle is pleasingly passable pulp.

The original GETAWAY, directed in 1972 by Sam Peckinpah, starred Steve
McQueen and Ali MacGraw. Now, cutest-couple Alec Baldwin and Kim
Basinger takeover the roles of a crime couple who double-cross both
their partner and their sponsor in a million-dollar heist.

Believe or it not, Alec Baldwin is the best thing in this movie.

Even when sporting a temporary beard (which makes him look like GI-Joe),
the former Jack Ryan outclasses everyone else including his wife. Poses
and all, he's a surprisingly steely presence.

The rest of the cast is a loss, though.

Kim Basinger tries to look tough, but she's no more intimidating than
costars Michael Madsen (the partner) and James Woods (the sponsor).
Together, they provide three textbook examples of good bad acting.

Talent (or lack thereof) notwithstanding, the four do pretty well for
about an hour. With Baldwin in the lead, they plan their crosses and
double-crosses and create a level of tension that never evaporates from
the film.

The pace stinks and nothing's funny, but director has a flair for action
that keeps the first hour interesting. The midday robbery at a dog track
is a keeper. As is a chase on a train with Baldwin stalking a petty

Mousey voiced Jennifer Tilly shows up around the film's midpoint and
completely changes the tone of the film. Playing a dim-but-buxom
hostage, she has the Meyer Touch: every scene she touches turns to camp.
Which is frustrating as all get-out because the rest of the cast is
playing things straight!

Of course, a little unintentional humor isn't bad. Until the writers
beginning adding their *own* jokes into the last half-hour. By the
inevitable Big Shoot Out, everyone's going in three different
directions. Some are doing deadpan. Some are trying to be funny. Others
are funny *without* trying.

Sample dialogue:

        Tilly to Madsen:  "What's the plan?"
        Madsen to Tilly:  "The plan is shaddup."

If nothing else, THE GETAWAY rewards the patent with a few deliriously
dumb moments. Madsen talking tough with a kitten on his chest is
something to see. As is Basinger and Baldwin having a heart-to-heart in
a landfill. But, for my money, nothing screams "stop" louder than the
sight of a Basinger haymaker striking Tilly's joke jaw.

Has it really come to this?  (Rated "R"/~120 min.)

BOTTOM LINE:  A tolerable tonic to a season weighted with heavy drama.
If nothing else, a great warm-up for Baldwin, who'll be lurking this
summer as...  The Shadow.

Grade: C+

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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