The Getaway (1994)
The Getaway (1994)

Genre: Action and Crime Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 56 min.

Release Date: February 11th, 1994 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Roger Donaldson Actors: Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, Michael Madsen, James Woods, David Morse, Jennifer Tilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Farnsworth

 


 

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rofessional criminals Carter “Doc” McCoy (Alec Baldwin) and his wife Carol (Kim Basinger) shoot rusty metal cans out in the desert as they wait for Rudy Travis (Michael Madsen) to arrive, bringing with him information on a gig worth $300,000. All they have to do is break Luis Mendoza (Daniel Villarreal) out of jail and ferry him across the Rio Grande. The job itself proves almost too easy, barely attracting attention as they bust the prisoner out of a transportation truck and put him on an aircraft. But when McCoy delivers Luis to his uncle, he realizes all too late that he’s been set up – Luis is executed for internal theft, Travis hightails it out of town on the escape plane, and Doc is imprisoned in Mexico for more than a year.

While locked up, McCoy learns of a shady businessman orchestrating lucrative underworld activities on both sides of the border. Since that very man, Jack Benyon (James Woods), can easily arrange for Doc’s release, Carol contacts him about his interest in acquiring the best hired guns he can round up for a particularly tricky heist. The new endeavor involves a dog racetrack vault room in need of a robbing, possibly harboring over $2 million. Benyon recruits Travis – who is understandably uneasy about working with the McCoys again, since they blame him for Doc’s incarceration – along with ex-military gunman Frank Hansen (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to pull off the theft. Despite careful planning and anticipated deceit, delivering and dividing the loot proves to be more difficult than the holdup itself.

“Hell of a way to make a living, Doc,” comments Carol, not genuinely displeased with their questionable line of work. Though they intend on giving up their life of crime after this final heist, their gangland associates (crooks that want to look respectable) don’t favor releasing them from their profession. And when true influences and motives are revealed, alongside a number of unexpected villains, it’s clear that getting away from transgressions won’t be a simple task.

“The Getaway” is amusingly riddled with spontaneous killings, explosive diversions, backstabbing, ‘90s tough-guy hair, and complications with the robbery that take the plot in several thrilling tangents. The actual getaway isn’t even the primary focus until more than halfway into the film. But there’s also an odd subplot preoccupation on a cuckold and his seductive but mentally deficient wife (Jennifer Tilly), combined with humiliation, sociopathic detachment, and inhibited desire, all exhibited not only by a murderous gangster, but also by the bored housewife, all of which seems extremely misplaced in a mostly mindless action/adventure picture.

“The Getaway” is well-paced at the start, approaching commonplace heist scenarios with just enough uncertainty and freshness to create tension-filled unpredictability. The editing is smart, the music is modern, the dialogue has a touch of impromptu, the acting is convincing, and believable chemistry exists between Baldwin and Basinger. But after the high-stakes larceny, the film quickly devolves into a rambling examination of numerous players involved in a multi-state escape. Two are Bonnie and Clyde-styled antiheroes, and two are unexplainably bizarre thrill seekers; the rest are essentially nameless, faceless thugs. The rare, unrated cut features extra, multiple, wholly extraneous shower scenes and a sex scene with Basinger, as well as nudity from Tilly (all quite gratuitous), before culminating in the destructive hotel shootout – and an anticlimactic, unnecessary, and rather didactic closing coda.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10