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John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Selena Gomez and Ethan Hawke star in a scene from the movie "Getaway."
Can the trauma of having your wife kidnapped make you drive faster and more, um, furiouser? Ethan Hawke finds out in the senseless car-chase flick "Getaway" (Warner Bros.).

Hawke plays ex-racer and devoted hubby Brent Magna. Poor Brent's yuletide gets off to a bad start when he returns to his apartment to find that his lovely spouse Leanne (Rebecca Budig) has been violently abducted while decorating their Christmas tree.

And you thought Grandma getting run over by that reindeer was a bummer!

Well, anyway, it seems that the unnamed criminal mastermind (Jon Voight) behind the whole thing isn't after a ransom. Instead, he wants Brent to use a souped-up vehicle he's purloined to cause mayhem on the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria, in order to facilitate a bank heist he's planning.

What's a red-blooded American like Brent doing in exotic Sofia? A belated exchange of dialogue eventually informs us that it's Leanne's hometown and that Brent and Leanne moved there after Brent said goodbye to the speedway. And fire-sale production costs had nothing to do with it.

No sooner has Brent begun to follow orders than his designated auto's teenage owner (Selena Gomez)—who also remains nameless throughout—shows up, waving a gun and demanding her classy chassis back.

Brent, who no doubt recognizes Selena from the Disney Channel, or perhaps "Ramona and Beezus," is having none of that. So the hood toting Miss Anonymous winds up becoming first Brent's unwilling passenger and later his computer-savvy partner in the ongoing effort to foil his adversary.

Though Brent refuses a direct order to kill what's-her-name, director Courtney Solomon does place him in the morally shaky position of endangering hordes of innocent bystanders—and innumerable pursuing police officers—for the sake of safeguarding a single life. But ethical considerations take a back seat as the wheels squeal and the windshields shatter—and as viewers run a gauntlet of crashes, collisions and illogical plot developments.

Since Brent only has eyes for the absent Leanne, there's no bedroom detour on his journey. But Selena puts distance between herself and her magical-kingdom past by labeling everyone she doesn't like with the A-word. Presumably for variety's sake, on one occasion, she settles for flipping some opponent the bird instead.

On the whole, moviegoers would do well to take this woeful picture's title as a piece of friendly advice.

The film contains much action violence, a few uses of profanity, considerable crude and crass language and an obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog I discovered that my sins had created a spiritual racket that drowned out the gentle whispers of God to my soul; God had never actually abandoned me, but I needed repentance and sacramental grace to reawaken all that was good and beautiful in me.

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