Zdzislaw Najmrodski was probably the most famous Polish criminal who operated in the late seventies, and gained fame in the eighties of the last century. Over the years, this rogue almost reached the status of a national hero, and people enthusiastically followed his adventures and actions and cheered for him to avoid the police as long as possible. His image in the public certainly contributed to the fact that he even managed to escape from law enforcement agencies 29 times by escaping from the train, through the courtroom window, from prison and even from the Warsaw police headquarters building. Considering such a status of the main (anti)hero, feature film debutant Mateusz Rakowicz decided on a rather casual approach to the treatment of the subject, so “The Getaway King” is an action crime comedy filmed almost in a classic Hollywood style.
At one point I thought “The Getaway King” was almost a poor man’s “Catch Me If You Can”, an Eastern European late-communist casual variation on a theme seen a hundred times. However, so that it would not be classic, Rakowicz decided to play a little stylistically, and for almost the entire duration of the film, until somewhere until the final end of communism, slightly golden tones prevail, everything is somehow shiny, sunny. He also plays with the camera angles and I didn’t really like the styling, and I don’t think it would be a mistake to stick to the classic style for these crime stories, but it wasn’t that bad either. “The Getaway King” was a dynamic and entertaining film with a rather ironic look at the time of the late eighties when communism was dying.
There is not much nostalgia here, not only for the period of late communism, but also for the first years of democracy, and we get to know Zdzislaw (one of the leading Polish actors of the younger generation, Dawid Ogrodnik, who appears in almost every Polish film I go to see lately) and his gang that way somewhere in the eighties, while they are carrying out another innovative theft. Almost every day, Polish television follows their activities and their moves are analyzed, and the people almost enjoy the incredible incompetence of the police. What in “Catch Me If You Can” was Tom Hanks for DiCaprio, it is here for the young bandit Police Inspector Barski (Robert Wieckiewicz). He seems to be the only competent one in the police force, but it is a time when competent people are not really appreciated, and we will see that not much will change later.