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The Getaway King Film: Entertaining and stylish, yet not lacking in depth- Cinema express

The Getaway King Film Review: Entertaining and stylish, yet not lacking in depth

The Getaway King fuses a technically brilliant style with exceptional acting and writing to present the larger-than-life story of popular thief, Zdzisław Najmrodzki

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Published: 13th May 2022
A shot from The Getaway King

The Getaway King (Najmro) is inspired by the life of Zdzisław Najmrodzki, a wanted thief and criminal active in the 70s and 80s. A larger-than-life persona with a folk hero-like standing amongst his people, Najmrodzki is known to have given the police the slip a staggering 29 times during the course of his run. His daring escapes include the ones from prison, the Warsaw Police Headquarters and a courthouse in session. Mateusz Rakowicz’s wildly entertaining film chooses to focus on the man’s existence in the late 80s (1988, to be specific), a period of social discontentment across Poland where shortage reigned supreme. During this time, Najmro’s (Dawid Ogrodnik) lavish heists encompassed a chain of Pewex stores, retailers of scarce luxury goods. With the elitist chain only accepting American currency, it made it next to impossible for the average, local resident to shop there. Najmro and his thievery corporation rob large parts of the premises under the cover of night, making the list of stolen items readily available on the indigenous black market. It is clear-cut crime in the eyes of law enforcement authorities, but to Polish people at large, the man is practically Robin Hood! That is why he is never snitched on or handed over to police, despite a sizable bounty on his head.

Director – Mateusz Rakowicz
Cast – Dawid Ogrodnik, Robert Wieckiewicz, Masza Wagrocka, Rafal Zawierucha, Jakub
Gierszal, Andrzej Andrzejewski, Sandra Drzymalska, Dorota Kolak
Streaming On – Netflix

What strikes you first and foremost is The Getaway King’s technical prowess. A technical brilliance that meshes exceedingly well with the tone of the film and its charismatic lead character. Cinematographer Jacek Podgórski bathes the distinctive shots in an ochre hue, matching the wondrous and often-playful nature of the events on screen. The allure Najmro exudes is noticeable in the colour of everyday things – Sodium lamp-soaked streets, a motorcycle helmet of a would-be love interest, the floorboards and wooden panels of a police station, a stolen car, you name it. The light chosen to shoot in is another marvel that keeps you captivated. The multi-shot approach to scenes and the apt use of slow-motion work heavily in the film’s favour. Najmro’s grand entrance in the beginning (post-prison break) – from picking out his fancy clothes to dancing to his heart’s content in the discotheque – is a sight for sore eyes, not to mention a celebration of the aforementioned splendour. Even his team’s seamless gravitation towards the hotel elevator after every heist, like clockwork, falls into the same category.

A perfectly cast Dawid Ogrodnik in the titular role is complemented beautifully by each and every character, big or small. Najmro’s flamboyant, mirthful and rather likable personality (even in admittedly stressful situations) is in stark contrast to the hardened police lieutenant, Barski (Robert Wieckiewicz), who isn’t buying into the former’s cult hero status. Early into the film, a car chase ends with Barski’s vehicle toppling in a field. Seconds before an explosion, Najmro unbuckles the lieutenant’s seatbelt and extricates him from the wreckage. Instead of a thank you for saving his life, the getaway king gets a full-blooded punch to the face from the no-nonsense Barski, before being hauled off to the station. There are moments of effective black humour that pepper themselves through the plot, like this one. Namjro’s subsequent exchanges with the lieutenant, as well as the latter’s total disregard for his lazy subordinate, Ujma (Zawierucha), are others to watch out for.

Najmrodzki meets his magnetic match in Tereska (Masza Wagrocka), a cinema ticket-vending attendant. Unlike others, she isn’t floored by Namjro’s charms, and even if she is, she fails to show it. In their banter-and-borderline-flirtatious dynamic, it is Tereska who holds all the power, as the uber-cool and alluring people’s hero can’t help himself from falling head over heels. Masza Wagrocka is quite fantastic in her role, with her character’s witty exchanges with Ogrodnik’s lead forming the most engaging sequences of The Getaway King. The combined acting display is so natural that it’s hard to tell the characters and actors apart. The writing ensures that these characters are really identifiable. The music, like the photography, fits the film like a glove.

The Getaway King excels at presenting this arresting and exuberant persona of a people’s thief, one who purportedly does what he does to subvert the system. While it is light, funny and endearing all at once, there is a shade of darkness simmering just beneath the surface, something that threatens to rear its head without warning. Had it not been for the predictable conclusion (with much artistic liberty thrown in), the film promised to be even better. As stylish and entertaining as it is, Najmro pedals a thought-provoking message through the fictionalised portrayal of an infamous Polish swindler.

 

 

Rating:
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