The Getaway

Directed by Roger Donaldson. Starring Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Tilly, Michael Madsen, Richard Farnsworth, James Wood. (1994, R, 115 min.)

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 11, 1994

This remake of the 1972 Peckinpah gem lacks the Ali McGraw/Steve McQueen heart and soul of the original, opting instead for the vacuous and thoroughly forgettable anti-chemistry of Baldwin and Basinger. Based on Jim Thompson's nihilist-noir novel, Baldwin and Basinger play a married pair of thieves whose final caper -- a dog track heist -- goes horribly awry when they find themselves crossed, double-crossed, and then triple-crossed by everyone around them. As if that weren't enough, the couple's marriage appears on the rocks as well. Just one of those days, I guess. James Woods is here, playing one of the double-crossers, but, as has been a problem for some time now, you get the unmistakable feeling that he's just playing James Woods. This guy has more talent in one stray eyelash than most actors have in their entire repertoire, but somehow Woods seems bored these days. (Salvador II, Mr. Stone?) The real punch of the original comes in the form of Michael Madsen and Jennifer Tilly. Madsen is cast as a double-crossing partner in the heist with a vendetta against Baldwin. When he stops at a rural veterinarian's house to have a stray bullet removed, he somehow ignites the ardor of the vet's loopy, whiny, tremendously slutty wife, Tilly. In perhaps the only scene in the film to have the utterly nihilistic tone of Thompson's original story, Madsen and Tilly make love in a hotel room while her husband, gagged and bound to a chair in the bathroom, can only watch and howl in impotent rage. It's a shocking bit, a one-two punch that leaves you feeling like you need a long, hot shower. There are guns and gore galore, but that doesn't make up for what is basically a lack of belief in the film's main characters. You wanna see The Getaway? Go rent the original, pal.

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