A Perfect Getaway

Director    David Twohy
Starring    Milla Jovovich, Steve Zahn, Timothy Olyphant, Kiele Sanchez, Chris Hemsworth, Marley Shelton
Release    7 AUG (US) 14 AUG (UK)    Certificate 15
3 stars


13th August 2009

I'm not sure what to make of David Twohy. The man is responsible for Critters 2: The Main Course, Waterworld, G.I. Jane and The Chronicles of Riddick (and unleashing Vin Diesel onto an unsuspecting world, damn it). One might despise him for these vile offences, nay, not just despise, but secretly wish to haul him into the Hague for crimes against humanity.

And then one recalls that this same David Twohy also handed us Julian Sands and Richard E. Grant - a one-two knockout punch of awesome - in a little flick called Warlock and followed up with the greatest TV knockoff of all time, 1993's The Fugitive. With David Twohy, it's either feast or famine, which left me wondering how his latest film would fare.

Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich are Cliff and Cydney, adventurous honeymooners out for a hike in the mountains of Kauai. Cliff is a yuppified screenwriter who has just sold his first script and Cydney is the perfect little bride who cannot wait to tell every stranger she meets that she has just gotten married. The film starts out slow, with plenty of videotaped wedding testimonials to remind everyone of exactly why they hate weddings.

Anyway, along the trail, they meet Kale and Cleo (Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton), a harsh-looking couple with awesome names who look like they would be more at home on the back of a Harley than hiking along the Hawaiian coast. Later, they meet Nick and Gina (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez), a half-looney former Special Ops soldier and his Georgia peach of a girlfriend, both of whom get naked and provide some eye candy. Cliff and Cydney, a little put off by Kale's nasty attitude, decide to continue their hike with the friendlier Nick and Gina.

When they learn from a group of frightened hikers that another newlywed couple has been brutally murdered and that the Hawaiian police are looking for a male and female in connection with the crime, the couples begin to view each other as possible suspects, slowly beginning to question whom they can actually trust.

Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich are likable enough as the newly married couple. Zahn, known primarily for his roles in comedies, plays Cliff as a tight-ass, and I found his descent into paranoia especially engrossing. Shelton and Hemsworth were effective at projecting the hippie/biker vibe, but the real breakthrough actors in this film are Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez.

Olyphant, late of Deadwood and Die Hard 4.0, is a revelation. A slightly crazed man's man who loves his girl as much as he loves to tell tall tales, his own interest in screen-writing never quite made its way into his understanding of film terminology, as he refers to 'red herrings' as "red snappers". I admit I've got quite the juvenile sense of humor at times because I giggled like an idiot at the line. Shakespeare it ain't, but after a long day at the office, I needed a good laugh.

And there are red snappers galore in this film. I'm not going to give anything away here, but there is a second act twist that will either blow your mind or simply confirm what you've been suspecting all along. Between the hints, the character quirks, and the flat-out obvious obfuscations, David Twohy will take you down at least a dozen rabbit holes if you let him, and he'll give you just enough disinformation to keep you doubting yourself. Aside from the slow start, the film ramps up enough tension and paranoia to keep you willingly following along.

It's only in the third act that I started to feel a little put off, and that was mostly due to the chase scenes, which seemed a little too cartoonish for the overall tone of the rest of the movie. The ending, while happy for a few of the characters, seemed just a little too perky. I'm quite sure that grievously injured people might require more than a moment or two to gather themselves before tossing around the pithy comments, but that's just me.

On the whole, A Perfect Getaway is an entertaining movie. Admittedly, when you're photographing paradise on earth, it's pretty hard to screw it up, but the visuals in this film are absolutely stunning, the acting is well above what you might expect from a summer thriller, and the story - while some of it a bit far-fetched - reels you in and takes you along for the ride.

As for David Twohy's feast or famine filmmaking repertoire, I would liken A Perfect Getaway to a big, slightly bloody cheeseburger - not exactly a gourmet delight or even remotely good for you, but still the perfect guilty pleasure.

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