New Adventures in Netflix is taking a trip down nostalgia way this week with Fast Getaway II, a film that harkens back to the halcyon days when Corey Haim was still a sex god. Non-threatening skinny white dudes in Hawaiian shirts and stupid ties were all the rage back then, which is depressing to me because I was too young to enjoy it myself. If it weren’t for the whole ‘skinny’ part I would have seen more ass than an obsessive donkey enthusiast.
The first Fast Getaway may be a footnote today, but back before everyone had HBO and was forced to settle for whatever movies their local affiliates could afford the rights to, the original film was a staple of Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Often both days, on the same weekend. Haim, sans Feldman, starred alongside The Accused’s Leo Rossi as Sam and Nelson Potter, a father-son bank robbing team who tend to depart the scenes of their crimes in an expedient fashion. They were the likable kind of bank robbers who never shot anybody and only stole American cars because, in theory, the owners of said cars would buy American again, thus stimulating the economy. They were betrayed by their partner Lily (action superstar Cynthia Rothrock) and entertainment, of a naïve sort, ensued.
By Fast Getaway II, Sam’s in a minimum security jail, having cut a deal to prevent his son Nelson (Haim) from doing any time. At the start of the film Nelson’s up to his old tricks, sticking up a Tucson banking establishment and putting the local law enforcement officials to shame with his clever getaway driving, which probably qualified as ‘fast’ before The Rock came in and raised everyone’s standards (for car chases, at least). The twist is that Nelson now robs banks legally, testing their security measures in a Sneakers-like arrangement that allows him to do what he does best without actually getting arrested for it. But soon Cynthia Rothrock shows up and actually robs the banks Nelson quality-assurance tested, making Nelson the prime suspect.
You can tell that Fast Getaway II was made in the early 1990’s because one character refers to carbohydrates as ‘starch.’ If that didn’t clinch it, Corey Haim’s hair sure would have. It’s some kind of reverse mullet, short on all sides but floppy on top, making him look like a well-dressed Final Fantasy character, which is a nice way of saying a total dork in the real world. Haim is clearly trying to coast on charm here, specifically the ‘Corey Haim’ version of charm, which involves squeaking his lines in a pubescent tone of voice usually reserved for Peter Brady. He’s also got a love interest who’s the prim-and-proper serious type. You can tell because of the way she wears her micro-skirts, all snooty and such. She’s played by The Bold and the Beautiful’s Sarah Buxton, who looks so much like a young Christine Baranski that you’ll probably wonder how Fast Getaway II ties in to The Bird Cage.
The plot of Fast Getaway II revolves around a sinister plan to break into banks and replace the real money with counterfeit currency, which is actually halfway clever. The rest of the movie never quite gets halfway, devoting most of its time to consistently disparaging remarks about Mexican food and bad guys who break into Nelson’s house to shoot his teddy bear in the face. The late screenwriting guru Blake Snyder referred to this kind of plot point, in which a character dies more than halfway through the film, as a ‘whiff of death.’ It reminds the viewers that the stakes are high and that the protagonists’ lives could genuinely be in danger. I’m not sure that the untimely execution of ‘Mr. Bingo’ qualifies.
And then sometimes Fast Getaway II gets bored with the plot altogether and resorts to strange mating rituals in which Cynthia Rothrock kicks an Entertainment Weekly out of her underling’s hands and kicks the crap out of him before having her sexy, martial arts way with the schlub. It comes out of nowhere but it’s still preferable to the last two-thirds of the film, in which her character completely disappears in favor of some kind of FBI agent who frames Nelson for the bank heists by dropping Nelson’s name tag at the scene and calling it ‘evidence.’ Smooth. By the end of the film he’s riding in the back of a pickup truck shooting grenades at our heroes in a mall parking lot. I could never tell if he was part of the sinister bank robbing plan or just a rogue plot point, popping in and out of the film like the monkey heads at Chuck E. Cheese. He’s played by Peter Liapis from Ghoulies, and at one point gets to say the line, “My butt is so puckered I don’t think I’m going to be able to take a crap today.” At least he gets all the best-written lines.
Fast Getaway II is a dorky action movie from an era in which that was the standard. It’s almost a breath of fresh air today, or at least it would be if it weren’t for all the Mexican food. Any movie in which recognizing Cynthia Rothrock’s ass in a photograph but being unable to prove it is a major plot point deserves some serious recognition in my eyes. If you’re wistful for a time when action movies didn’t have to be ‘good’ to be good, then Fast Getaway II is a mildly entertaining but mediocre start. We’d recommend the original, but it’s not available on home video at all anymore. Even Fast Getaway II is only viewable on Netflix Instant Streaming, thus validating the entire existence of this series. Seek it out today.