The Getaway (1994)

reviewed by
Michael J. Legeros

                                    THE GETAWAY
                       A film review by Michael John Legeros
                        Copyright 1994 Michael John Legeros
Directed by Roger Donaldson
Written by Walter Hill & Amy Holden Jones
Starring Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, and Michael Madsen
MPAA Rating     "R" 
Running Time    Approx. 120 minutes
"It's been my experience that having friends is overrated."
                                - Michael Madsen to Baldwin & Basinger
                                  as their characters discuss 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 thief.

     Then a bomb drops with Slim Pickens ridin'.

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 from finale:
        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?
Bottom line:    Roger Donaldson's flat remake of "The Getaway" is
                a tolerable tonic to a season weighted with heavy
                drama.  If nothing else, it's a great warm-up for
                Baldwin, who'll be lurking this summer as...
                The Shadow.
Grade: C+

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