After Dark Films
It seems a bit odd to take on a movie review of Courtney Solomon's Getaway, as only in the loosest terms is Getaway actually a movie. We begin without questions — other than a vague and frustrating "What the hell is going on?" — and end without answers, watching Ethan Hawke drive his car into things (and people) for the hour and a half in between. We learn very little along the way, probed to engage in the mystery of the journey. But we don't, because there's no reason to.
There's not a single reason to wonder about any of the things that happen to Hawke's former racecar driver/reformed criminal — forced to carry out a series of felonious commands by a mysterious stranger who is holding his wife hostage — because there doesn't seem to be a single ounce of thought poured into him beyond what he see. We learn, via exposition delivered by him to gun-toting computer whiz Selena Gomez, that he "did some bad things" before meeting the love of his life and deciding to put that all behind him. Then, we stop learning. We stop thinking. We start crashing into police cars and Christmas trees and power plants.
Why is Selena Gomez along for the ride? Well, the beginnings of her involvement are defensible: Hawke is carrying out his slew of vehicular crimes in a stolen car. It's her car. And she's on a rampage to get it back. But unaware of what she's getting herself into, Gomez confronts an idling Hawke with a gun, is yanked into the automobile, and forced to sit shotgun while the rest of the driver's "assignments" are carried out. But her willingness to stick by Hawke after hearing his story is ludicrous. Their immediate bickering falls closer to catty sexual tension than it does to genuine derision and fear (you know, the sort of feelings you'd have for someone who held you up or forced you into accessorizing a buffet of life-threatening crimes).
After Dark Films
The "gradual" reversal of their relationship is treated like something we should root for. But with so little meat packed into either character, the interwoven scenes of Hawke and Gomez warming up to each other and becoming a team in the quest to save the former's wife serve more than anything else as a breather from all the grotesque, impatient, deliberately unappealing scenes of city wreckage.
And as far as consolidating the mystery, the film isn't interested in that either, as evidenced by its final moments. Instead of pressing focus on the answers to whatever questions we may have, the movie's ultimate reveal is so weak, unsubstantial, and entirely disconnected to the story entirely, that it seems almost offensive to whatever semblance of a film might exist here to go out on this note. Offensive to the idea of film and story in general, as a matter of fact. But Getaway isn't concerned with these notions. Not with story, character, logic, or humanity. It just wants to show us a bunch of car crashes and explosions. So you'd think it might have at least made those look a little better.
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Last month, the fifth film in the Die Hard franchise was released upon theaters. As the minutes of the run time clicked away, it became painfully clear that A Good Day to Die Hard didn’t actually feel like a Die Hard movie. Sure, it again starred Bruce Willis as John McClane, and indeed he was taking on a fresh crop of bad guys. However, from a fundamental story standpoint, it felt miles apart from the original film, and we don’t just mean that in the sense that it took place in Russia.
Then came the first trailer for Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen. In the movie, a lone secret service agent is the only one who can step in to save the president when The White House is besieged by terrorists. Every inch of that trailer would suggest that Olympus has Fallen is merely Die Hard in The White House. There’s even similar sounding dialogue that suggests similar villain misdirection; “who said anything about negotiating” versus, “who said we were terrorists?” This got us thinking about some of our favorite, and weirdest, instances of the Die Hard model being applied to other narrative setups.
Die Hard on a Bus: Speed
1994’s Speed is probably the most well-known of this lot of Die Hard rip-offs, but it’s also the one that boasts the most direct shared heritage. Jan de Bont made his directorial debut with Speed, after making a name for himself in Hollywood as a cinematographer on such films as Cujo, Ruthless People, and, oh that’s right… Die Hard. Interesting note: the airplane into which the bus crashes at the end of the movie is labeled Pacific Courier — the same company brandished on the side of the truck that brought the terrorists to the Nakatomi building in Die Hard.
RELATED: What Makes a 'Die Hard' Movie a 'Die Hard' Movie?
Die Hard at a Rock Concert: Command Performance
There is usually one scene in every Die Hard movie in which John McClane takes on someone much bigger than himself; keeping him relatable to the audience even as he establishes himself as an action hero. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone much larger than Dolph Lundgren, and yet he assumes the John McClane role for Command Performance. In the film, Lundgren plays the drummer of a rock band who happens to be performing in Russia when a group of kidnappers invade the concert. They are hoping to abduct the Russian president and his daughters who are there to see America’s number one pop star. The movie is totally absurd, but wildly entertaining despite itself. Not to be missed is the scene wherein Dolph takes down a foe with the sheer power of rock n' roll.
Die Hard on Ice: Sudden Death
Another of Willis’ Expendables 2 co-stars, Jean-Claude Van Damme, gets his chance at inhabiting his own John McClane-type character in 1995’s Sudden Death. Terrorists take hostages in the premier private suite during the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, and it’s up to one unfortunate ex-firefighter to save the day. The parallels to Die Hard here are evident even from the nosebleed seats, as is the fact that Sudden Death was originally written to be a comedy. There is actually a scene, played with deathly seriousness in the final cut, wherein Van Damme engages in a brutal altercation with a woman in a giant penguin costume.
RELATED: 10 Cheesy Jean-Claude Van Damme Photos
Die Hard at a Beauty Pageant: No Contest
As it turns out, ripping off Die Hard is an equal opportunity enterprise. In 1995’s No Contest, a Die Hard scenario breaks out at a beauty pageant, and it’s up to the hostess of the show — who, incidentally, is also a kick-boxer — to save the day. Adult film star Shannon Tweed stars as the stone in the collective shoe of the sinister gangsters who take the prospective beauty queens hostage. The gang is lead by none other than controversial standup comedian Andrew Dice Clay. One direct connection is the fact that Robert Davi, who played one of the two Agent Johnsons in Die Hard, appears in No Contestas, get this, an authority figure on the outside looking in.
Die Hard with a GPA: Toy Soldiers
You’re never too young to be yippee-ki-yay your way to action hero status. In 1991’s Toy Soldiers, a private boarding school, attended by the children of a number of prominent, wealthy citizens, is taken over by terrorists. A group of rambunctious young pranksters decide to put their skills to good use and make trouble for their uninvited guests. Sean Astin, Samwise Gamgee himself, stars as the leader of the collective teenaged McClane here. In this abridged clip, we see that part of Astin’s plan for foiling the terrorists even involves crawling through air ducts. Now, who else do we know who does that?
[Photo Credit: Film District]
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Top Story: Madonna's Two Cents on Celeb Marriages
Madonna has some advice for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez: get over it. In an interview for Access Hollywood that aired Thursday, Madonna said, "To a certain extent, [Affleck and Lopez] courted the media attention. At the end of the day I feel like that's their job, and then there needs to be a part of the relationship that you keep private." But the pop diva added, "You know, I'm not making a judgment call on Jennifer and Ben ... we can only make assumptions about why it did or didn't happen. Ultimately, if you have a strong relationship, and there is understanding of what a committed marriage is, I don't think that having a lot of media attention can break it up."
P. Diddy Is No "Sweat" Daddy
In an investigation into whether Sean "P. Diddy" Combs is using "sweatshops" to make his trendy clothing line, Honduran officials said Thursday they could find no evidence of worker's exploitation at the factory, Reuters reports. "We haven't found instances of exploitation, or slave-like conditions," Honduran Labor Minister German Leitzelar told Reuters. The U.S. National Labor Committee accused Combs' factory managers earlier this week of cursing at Honduran workers, refusing to pay overtime, or firing them when they became pregnant. In a press conference, Combs vowed to have "zero tolerance" for any labor law violations in factories producing his Sean John clothing line.
Rocker Weiland Ordered Into Another Drug Program
While still completing a court-ordered drug counseling program, Stone Temple Pilots' lead singer Scott Weiland was charged Thursday with driving under the influence and ordered to a live-in detox program, to be followed by a six-month stay in a residential drug rehabilitation center, Reuters reports. Weiland was arrested Monday after crashing into a parked car in Hollywood.
Chong's Jail Release Denied
A federal judge ruled that Tommy Chong, one half of the pot-smokin' comic duo Cheech and Chong, must continue serving his prison sentence for conspiracy to sell drug paraphernalia while his appeal is pending, AP reports. The 65-year-old actor and comedian pleaded guilty to conspiracy last spring in federal court and was sentenced to nine months in prison.
Tyler's Daughter Marries Drummer
Plus-size model Mia Tyler, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler's daughter and actress Liv Tyler's sister, married Papa Roach drummer David Buckner in front of thousands of people during an Aerosmith concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, AP reports. The proud father of the bride reportedly told the audience, "Hey Vegas, I need a favor, my daughter wants to get married tonight. Can I get a witness?" It's the first marriage for both.
McCartney Tops British Rich List
Former Beatle Paul McCartney, 61, was named the biggest earner in Britain--the same week his second wife, Heather Mills, gave birth to a baby girl, Reuters reports. The latest Sunday Times Pay List reports McCartney earns $68 million a year. "Maybe a baby will make him feel young and stay in touch with modern trends in his dotage," list compiler Philip Beresford told Reuters. Other rockers on the list include Sting, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart.
Culkin Signs Up for TV Projects
Macaulay Culkin signed a deal with NBC to develop several television projects, including a possible comedy show for fall 2004. "We're going to use him in an unconventional way," NBC's president of prime-time development, Kevin Reilly told AP. "I don't think you'll see Macaulay as a straight-down-the-middle romantic lead. I think you'll see him in something surprising, a little offbeat."
Miller Heads to CNBC
Dennis Miller will host a prime-time cable talk show on CNBC, Reuters reports. The politically charged comedian will also serve as executive producer for the hour-long show, set to debut in January. "With all that's going on in the world today, it's nice to have a nightly platform to air my opinions. I'm happy to be back in the NBC family," said Miller, a former Saturday Night Live regular on the peacock channel.
Role Call: Cain To Star in Peterson Story, Affleck Plays Coach
Dean Cain will portray Scott Peterson--the Modesto, Calif., man accused of killing his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son--in an upcoming USA Networks television movie, AP reports. The film, tentatively titled The Perfect Husband, will be from the perspective of two of Laci's friends and will follow the real-life headlines about the search for Laci and subsequent revelations about Scott, network officials told AP… In more movie news, Ben Affleck has agreed to play retired University of Texas at El Paso basketball coach Don Haskins in a feature about the 1966 Texas Western NCAA championship, AP reports. Antoine Fuqua (Tears of the Sun) will direct.
Think Johnny Depp would be interested in a role? Variety reports Paramount Pictures plans to make a big-screen version of 21 Jump Street, the popular late-'80s TV series that launched Depp's career and gave the then-fledgling Fox network its first youth audience boost. The film treatment, to be written by series co-creators Stephen J Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh, focuses on a group of 20-something undercover cops who return to high school to crack down on drug dealers roaming the hallways. The series also starred Peter DeLuise, Holly Robinson Peete, Dustin Nguyen and Richard Grieco.
Frances Bay, the 83-year-old character actress who was struck by a car Thursday, was listed in critical condition Saturday at a Los Angeles hospital after having part of her right leg amputated. Bay, who has appeared in more than 50 films including Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Planner, also suffered from head injuries due to the accident in which a 17-year-old driver struck her going 30 miles per hour. No charges have been filed as yet.
Paula Poundstone has taken the first step in getting her children back. An appeals court granted the comedian her first unsupervised visit with her three adopted children since she lost custody 17 months ago in her child endangerment case, Reuters reports. She has been visiting the kids, now in a foster home, with a court-appointed monitor nearly every day.
Jethro gets in on some casino action. Max Baer Jr., the actor who played the dumb but lovable Jethro Bodine on the popular '60s show The Beverly Hillbillies, has signed a deal to produce hundreds of penny slot machines featuring the show, AP reports. If this works out, Baer, 64, looks to expand the Hillbillies franchise by coming up with grocery items such as Elly May's buns and Granny's lye soap. Yee-haw!
Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) will direct Warner Bros. Pictures' Strangers, an update of the Patricia Highsmith novel Strangers on a Train. The story, which in 1951 got classic treatment from the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, centers on a tennis pro embroiled in an ugly divorce who wants to kill his wife. He ends up meeting a man on a train who wants to kill his father, and the two make a pact to swap murders. Only one, however, has the guts to carry it out.
The Emmy-nominated miniseries Dinotopia, a fantastical story about dinosaurs and humans living and conversing compatibly, will become a TV series on ABC. The 13-episode series will begin airing Thanksgiving and will be geared toward the young viewing audience that made the miniseries so popular. Meaning, the T. Rexes will still devour humans, they'll just do it off-camera.
Chris Robinson, the lead singer of the Black Crowes who left the popular rock band to pursue a solo career, is now promoting his debut album New Earth Mud. Robinson, 35, who is married to actress Kate Hudson, told Reuters, "I'm not looking for an easy life."
Sean "P.Diddy" Combs and Alicia Keys were on hand Saturday in Cape Town, South Africa, to perform for MTV's Staying Alive Concert and to voice their indignation over the lack of support for the AIDS epidemic currently ravaging Africa. "I don't think you see enough of this story in your face," Combs told reporters. MTV will broadcast the concert globally Dec. 1 as part of a 90-minute World AIDS Day special .