There are those who love Twilight and anything else having to do with vampires. There are also those who devour anything horror or sci-fi. Like these irrational obsessions, I too am (although a little less so) obsessed when it comes to B-movie film noirs. There is a certain romantic and nostalgic allure to these types of stories that reminds me of old Hollywood. They are distinctively American in their style and narrative. The Getaway comfortably falls into this category and although its not a great movie by any means, especially when compared to the Sam Peckinpah original with Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw, it’s late-night Cinemax cliché’s make for a fun experience.

Back in the early 90s, Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin were the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie equivalent of THE Hollywood power couple. There wasn’t a tabloid that didn’t track their every step and a few studios decided to cash in on this phenomenon. Remaking The Getaway made the perfect sense. The original starred Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw, who were one of the most storied Hollywood couples ever. It was only appropriate to cast Baldwin and Basinger in an update of the movie. The two play Doc and Carol McCoy, a criminal couple who set out to do one last big job so they can retire. However, Doc gets set up and he’s sent to a Mexican prison. To get him out, Carol screws a powerful crime boss named Jack Benyon (James Woods) in exchange to get her husband out of prison. However, one condition for getting out is that Doc must pull a big heist for Benyon. Doc agrees and he gets teamed up with a former colleague, Rudy (Michael Madsen), to steal a shitload of money from a racing track. They manage to successfully steal the money, but Rudy tries to double-cross Doc and Doc shoots him, thinking he’s dead. When Doc and Carol go to deliver the money to Benyon, Carol’s hatred of being forced by Benyon to screw him causes her to kill him. With Benyon and Rudy gone, the entire case of money now belongs to Doc and Carol and so they decide to run off to Mexico and retire. Of course, things are never that easy as Benyon’s associates and Rudy go after the couple to get the money back.

I enjoyed this film much more when I saw it in theaters back in 1994. At the time, I felt critics were being unfairly critical of the movie and I was caught up in the Pulp Fiction euphoria that spawned a slew of crime movies. The Getaway is one big walking cliché. From inception to execution, every character and story element is straight out of the film noir handbook. Doc gets framed and gets sent to a dirty Mexican prison (is there any other kind?). Benyon is a sleazy crime boss who lives in a nice pad surrounded by ruthless associates. Of course, he never intends to pay Doc his share of the money because crime bosses never do that. Rudy finds himself a young lonely housewife (Meg Tilly) who’s excited by Rudy’s tough, criminal lifestyle. And no movie like this can end without the obligatory climactic showdown. The film doesn’t have an ounce of originality so unless you’re a big fan of the genre, you may find this film derivative and boring.

The best thing going for The Getaway is its great cast and it really is a GREAT cast. Although Kim Basinger has never been known for her acting abilities (despite winning the Oscar for L.A. Confidential in 1997), she and Baldwin have great chemistry together, which is obviously helped by their real-life relationship. Moreover, the antihero protagonist in these types of films also has to have a smoking hot girlfriend and there is no doubt that Basinger is one of the most beautiful looking women Hollywood has ever produced. As for Baldwin, I think he is the only talented actor in his band of brothers and he’s certainly the most successful. I also think he is a very capable actor in his own right, but his real skills lie in comedy, which he didn’t really capitalize upon until later in his career.

The supporting cast is a who’s who of formidable actors. You have James Woods, who can play sleazy like no other in the film business. He’s played this type of role a number of times in other films (Casino, The Specialist), but you never get sick of watching him do the same thing because he is so fucking good at it. I wished he had not been killed so early in the movie and that he would have been the one who shows up at the hotel during the climactic shootout. Michael Madsen plays one type of role and that can only be described as badass. He’s like straight out of the 1950s with his slicked back hair, the blasé look on his face, and his general rockabilly getup. He doesn’t have a lot of range as an actor, but that doesn’t matter because you wouldn’t want to see him play any other type of role. Here, he’s sporting an orange mullet, which is a bit strange, but for some strange reason, it kinda works for him. Meg Tilly plays his sex kitten. I don’t know if Tilly has ever patented her voice, but I can’t imagine there being anyone in this world having a voice like hers. Unfortunately, it sort of limits the types of roles she can play, but luckily for her, she has nailed down the sexy nymphet character and its quite alright if that’s all she ever plays for the remainder of her career. Finally, the movie has a touching and brief scene with the late Richard Farnsworth. Talk about an actor from another time. For the few minutes of screen time he has, Farnsworth completely changes the entire tone of the scene and makes it his own. He is absolutely wonderful in the little he does and he gives the film an added human weight that it didn’t have before.

Now I’m not one of those people who like a particular film merely because it belongs to a favorite genre. I know a number of these people and because of their fanboy fixation on anything pertaining to that genre, its difficult to take any of their recommendations seriously. What gives The Getaway its old-school charm also constitutes its ultimate failure. Despite having fun watching all the clichés contained in this movie, I still wanted to see an original story. I wanted a new spin on the formula; something I had not seen before. Instead, the director Roger Donaldson, decided to play it safe and stick with the conventional rules of the genre. Every single scene plays out in the same exact way that you have seen in every other crime/film noir. Now I understand this is a remake so there is only so much that you can deviate from. However, there is one scene in particular that COMPLETELY DID NOT MAKE SENSE. Kim Basinger is in a train terminal and she decides to put the bag of stolen money in a locker. Some random dude then comes and offers to put the heavy bag in the locker for her. Unbeknownst to her, the guy does a swap and takes off with the bag. The dude doesn’t know the bag has any money in it and he obviously doesn’t know that Doc and Carol are thieves who have stolen some money. Doc eventually catches up to the guy, beats him, and reclaims his bag. The scene was random and unnecessary and the only reason it was in the movie was because it was convenient for the filmmakers so that they could establish a way for the bad guys to find the McCoys at the hotel. I call this lazy writing.

The Getaway is overall an enjoyable late-night experience that doesn’t try to be more than an average crime movie. If you have never seen the Steve McQueen/Ali MacGraw original, then you need to not even consider seeing the remake and go straight for the McQueen/MacGraw original.

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