Helmed by Polish director Mateusz Rakowicz (‘Romantik’), ‘The Getaway King’ (‘Najmro: Kocha, kradnie, szanuje’) fictionalizes a life of crimes with an explosion of colors and a tinge of sympathy. While chronicling Poland of the 70s and the 80s, the movie showcases the rise and fall of Zdzislaw Najmrodzki, a Polish thief of some recognition. Najmrodzki has often been called “King of Thieves” and “The Getaway King” for his 29 escapades.
While presenting an extravagant affair full of vibrant colors and a catchy original score, the movie also manages to ground its protagonist in the gritty transition-era backdrop of Poland. Despite its adherence to some of the popular crime drama tropes, it tries to up the ante by doing a couple of new things. The use of television remains pivotal, considering the time. It also inserts appropriate media footage to tie the story with the presupposed reality. However, the hasty finale may unsettle you to an extent, and in that case, let us illuminate. SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Getaway King Plot Synopsis
The story begins in 1988 in a neon-infused Poland, where Zdzislaw Najmrodzki, a charismatic thief, grooms his mustache before heading to a glamorous party. In the background, he and his delinquent associates break into several Pewex stores (Polish communist-era stores selling luxury goods). The police remain confused. Barski, the lieutenant of the Civilian’s Militia, and his dim-witted sidekick Ujma strive to crack the case and stop the robberies. Barski discovers that Najmrodzki and his gang are using posters of the movie ‘Curse of Snakes Valley’ (‘Klatwa Doliny Wezy’) to cover their entrance routes. Out of a broken marriage and on a mission to get some more posters, Najmrodzki meets Tereska, and they hit it off.
The police get close to catching Najmrodzki on quite a few occasions. However, the thief makes a fool out of the law. He casually takes leave from the courtroom in one instance, jumping out of the window. The detectives bring him in for investigation, but he escapes from the Militia headquarters after buttering Barski for a while. Barski almost dies in one instance, and Najmrodzki decides to save him. When an economically dwindling Poland comes to the brink of a transition, Najmrodzki grows a penchant for stealing cars. He gets banged up once again. After his escape through a tunnel, the authority directs the force to shoot Najmrodzki at sight. While he gets caught in his last tango, his associate Antos turns against him. Najmrodzki finds himself in the middle of boiling tension, with no level playing ground.
The Getaway King Ending: Is Najmrodzki Dead or Alive? Whose Hand Do The Police Find?
Towards the end, Najmrodzki gets released from prison after the newly elected Polish president listens to his plea. In the meantime, the Berlin Wall has fallen, and Poland has gone through a decisive shift in its political and economic system. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, people had easy access to western products with colorful packaging, and there was an air of progress. Then, the recession hit, and the economy became unstable in the mid-1990s. At this juncture, Najmrodzki sees that he is not in the center of the limelight anymore.
Furthermore, Najmrodzki is unsafe, and the threat also looms large on his family. While Najmrodzki was in jail, Antos joined another affluent criminal gang. Now, Antos looks for Najmrodzki, threateing Mira. On the other hand, after the display of violence at the car market, Ujma gets a promotion and becomes a lieutenant. Barski has to retire from the department under pressure. Since he is a good cop, Mira asks him to ensure the safety of Najmrodzki.
In the end, an enthralling car chase sequence unfolds between psychotic Antos on the one hand and Najmrodzki and Barski on the other. A car erupts in flames while Barski escapes the scene. After finding a piece of an arm, the police conclude that Najmrodzki is dead. After the declaration of the police, Najmrodzki’s family stays in shock amidst a hurried funeral. Mira, Mira’s boyfriend Hippie, Tereska, Barski, and others mourn at the table.
Meanwhile, Antos and his gang storm the room, eager to express their condolences. Moments after, Barski miraculously revives Najmrodzki, seemingly from out of nowhere. However, the family is ecstatic to find Najmrodzki in good health and humor, and the audience cannot complain. However, we wonder about the ownership of the hand. Looking at the bandage on Najmrodzki’s arm, Najmrodzki had to make a “handy” sacrifice to escape both the law and the criminal underworld.
Do Najmrodzki and Tereska End Up Together?
Najmrodzki and Tereska come off as a pretty dynamic couple, despite their age differences. They meet by sheer chance as Najmrodzki heads to the movie theatre to get more posters for his covert embezzlement scheme. However, Najmrodzki is out of luck since the old girl at the counter with whom he had a rapport has left the job.
However, Tereska is in her place, and she does not like to bend the rules. On her insistence, Najmrodzki has to buy ten tickets for an upcoming movie he has no intention of seeing. However, Najmrodzki decides to give the film a spin, despite being the only spectator in the theatre. Outside the hall, he embarks on a conversation with Tereska. His car breaks down, leading to Tereska giving him a lift.
Tereska stays by Najmrodzki’s side till the very end, even when Najmrodzki is in jail. She promises to marry him if he agrees to work on himself. At the end of the 80s, Najmrodzki shifts to low-risk businesses, like stealing cars, but the law eventually catches up to him. He finds himself locked in prison again, with a heavier sentence on his shoulder. However, Najmrodzki manages to assure Tereska by reading to her at the beginning of his letter to the president.
When Najmrodzki gets released from prison, we invariably think that he ends up with Tereska. In the twisty situation, where we do not know whether Najmrodzki is dead or alive, the hope dwindles. However, as the lovers reconcile in the epilogue, Najmrodzki promises Tereska that he will stay out of crime and lead an upstanding life. The movie signs off with the promise and the anticipation of a kiss. Thus, we concur that Najmrodzki and Tereska end up together.