P.S.H. I Love You: Get away from “The Getaway”

The Getaway Kim Basinger & Alec Baldwin in The Getaway (Universal Pictures)

Even early in his career, Philip Seymour Hoffman is too good for this dull shoot-em-up.

When you think of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s frequent collaborators, Alec Baldwin probably doesn’t come to mind. Yet these actors found themselves in the same movie on multiple occasions, appearing opposite each other three times. Their collaborations got better as time went on, with their most successful pairing coming in the genuinely funny Along Came Polly. Before that, Hoffman and Baldwin co-starred as a writer and a pervy actor, respectively, in David Mamet’s State and Main. Unfortunately, their original convergence is a rancid waste of time. 

In the 1994 remake of The Getaway, Baldwin stars as “Doc” McCoy, a crafty thief with a heart of gold. Well, that’s the idea anyway. A filthy script mixed with Baldwin’s inability to embody this sincere leading man means Doc is basically a heavily armed toddler. He wears a trendy haircut and fires off such crafty one-liners as “Don’t fuck me again.” His defining character trait is that he has a wife named Carol (Kim Basinger) – we’re meant to think they’re love because the movie keeps showing her naked. 

If you’re looking for a pungent mix of too much plot and awkward sex, you’ll love the beginning of The Getaway. With the help of Carol and his partner Rudy (the ever magnetic Michael Madsen), Doc springs a guy from the back of an armored truck, then gets double-crossed and left behind in a Mexican jail cell. Carol gets him out by making a deal with Jack Benyon, a creepy, James Woods-type (played by James Woods). In return for his freedom, Benyon expects Doc to rob a dog race track. 

Hoffman shows up for The Getaway‘s most watchable moments.

For a few minutes, the film becomes a discount version of Logan Lucky. Doc, Carol, and Rudy are joined by Frank (Hoffman). He’s a nervous ex-soldier – Hoffman sets up a disposable character that’s clearly not making it to the end of the movie alive. The Getaway doesn’t even bother trying to convince you its protagonists are real people, let alone the supporting players, so it’s not like Hoffman gets anything to sink his teeth into. Still, he plays the small part well – it’s not shocking when the twitchy Frank shoots a guard during the robbery, nor is it much surprise when Frank gets offed by Rudy during one of the titular getaways. 

Hoffman shows up for The Getaway‘s most watchable moments. Instead of further heisting, this pulp is bogged down by the “revelation” that Carol had to sleep with Benyon to get her husband out of prison. Doc’s response is as unrealistic as it is childish, alienating whatever sympathy or interest the audience might’ve been holding onto. 

Truth be told, I struggled to stay awake through the back half of the excessive, two-hour runtime. Baldwin wouldn’t do straight thrillers much longer, soon realizing his knack for adding ironic distance to himself on-screen (see, for example, State and Main). Here, he and Basinger have next-to-no chemistry across a slog of shoot-outs that don’t mean anything. On the other hand, the side plot in which Madsen’s Rudy kidnaps a veterinarian and his wife (Jennifer Tilly) is remarkably entertaining. These actors don’t seem to be taking things as seriously – as they shouldn’t. At least Alec Baldwin and Philip Seymour Hoffman would eventually make a good movie together.  

The Getaway Trailer:

Jonah Koslofsky
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