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‘The Getaway’ (R)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
February 11, 1994

A pack of mean-spirited, macho louts and their Pamprin-deprived molls go on a stealing and killing spree in "The Getaway," an utterly pointless remake of Sam Peckinpah's hair-raising road movie. Updated and dumbed down, this anemic variation on the bloodier 1972 original is primarily an opportunity for those vast legions of Baldwin-Basinger voyeurs. You know who you are.

Alec and Kim herein strap on the guns previously packed by Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw, who played Doc and Carol McCoy in the version revered by Peckinpasians. In terms of structure, "The Getaway" is virtually a carbon copy of the first film, which was written by Walter Hill, who adapted from Jim Thompson's pulp thriller. Hill also wrote this one, with an assist from Amy Holden Jones, who was recruited to give Basinger's part more substance. (We all remember what she did for Demi Moore in "Indecent Proposal.")

"I want it," whispers the heroine, pulling her husband's pistol from the vicinity of his pocket. "Yeah, baby," says Doc, turning to blow the bejeezus out of a beer can. Kerpow. Kerplooey. Oooh, baby, baby. They continue to target practice, but overcome by their physical need for one another, they check into a cheap motel and make love, whereupon we discover that Baldwin is as hairy as Bigfoot. There's enough fur on his chest alone to make ski hats for all of Santa's reindeer.

But can he act?


Nevertheless, the show goes on. A fabulously gifted thief, Doc is double-crossed by an accomplice, Rudy (Michael Madsen) and winds up in a Mexican prison. Carol, plucky as she is beautiful, does what she must to get her man out of the lockup. Clad in a dress that fits like a surgical glove, the felon's wife goes to Arizona mob boss Jack Benyon (James Woods) to ask for help. Benyon tells her she's too classy for Doc, fondles her shoulders, but agrees to spring Doc for a price -- only part of which is stealing $3 million from a greyhound racetrack. The heist is successful, but for all their technical know-how, the McCoys are not bright enough to quietly get out of town and are pursued by Benyon's goons, the police and the malicious pervert double-crossing accomplice, Rudy. Many car chases, gun fights and recriminations later, they wind up on the verge of their goal -- escaping back to Mexico.

In a grotesquely overacted subplot, Rudy abducts a kindly veterinarian (James Stephens) and forces the poor fellow to watch as he and the vet's slutty wife, Fran (Jennifer Tilly doing the Bambi thing), have sex in a motel bedroom. A couple of corpses later, Rudy, Fran and their pet kitty finally catch up with everybody else for a cliched shootout just north of the border.

Director Roger Donaldson (of "No Way Out") is so reluctant to depart from the Peckinpah genre that he even films the same crash-and-burn scenes in slow-mo. Though his pacing improves as the action escalates, Donaldson always disappoints by resorting to gunplay cliches. He has faithfully re-created the dump truck escape, which lands the couple were they truly belong: the garbage dump.

"The Getaway" is rated R for violence, nudity, profanity and sex.

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