A Perfect Getaway (2009)
A Perfect Getaway (2009)

Genre: Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.

Release Date: August 7th, 2009 MPAA Rating: R

Director: David Twohy Actors: Steve Zahn, Timothy Olyphant, Milla Jovovich, Kiele Sanchez, Marley Shelton, Chris Hemsworth

 


 

W

hen including the word “perfect” in a movie’s title, filmmakers leave themselves a rather easy target for cunning wordsmiths should the film not at least live up to the expectations of the genre. Double entendre aside, “A Perfect Getaway” does fulfill the suspense promised by the trailer, while throwing in a little nastily creative violence. But it also offers far too many twists and turns and the much-dreaded flashback finale – letting the audience know they couldn’t have figured it out themselves. It becomes quite obvious early on that things are not what they seem, so attempting to guess the outcome replaces the tension; and oddly intentional screenwriting references spoil several surprises. By the end viewers should be able to decipher American Jedi from angry hitchhikers, but who will care? It’s a credit to David Twohy’s directing that some probably will, but the only real getaway is the climax when it perfectly escapes from the credibility of the plot.

For their honeymoon, newlyweds Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich) head to the tropical islands of Hawaii. While journeying through the paradisiacal countryside, the couple encounters Kale (Chris Hemsworth) and Cleo (Marley Shelton), two mean-spirited hitchhikers, and Nick (Timothy Olyphant) and Gina (Kiele Sanchez), two wild but well-meaning spirits who help guide them through the lush jungles. The picturesque waterfalls and scenic mountainsides quickly give way to terror when Cliff and Cydney learn of a grisly murder that occurred nearby and realize that they’re being followed by chance acquaintances that suspiciously fit the description of the killers.

To say that “A Perfect Getaway” brings new meaning to the idea of a twist ending would be overly generous. It does indeed keep the audience guessing, but it’s more of a twist middle. In an attempt to outsmart the viewer, the film resorts to entirely too much explaining, flashbacks, and backstory to educate on details conveniently left out for mystery purposes. It would be more accurate to say that this film is too smart for its own good. Perhaps what is most predictable is the inclusion of twists in the first place, some of which are downright silly. The story doesn’t necessarily fall apart because of the unexpected happenings – it fails because of the execution and exposition of the surplusage of red herrings.

What works well is the constant comedy. Like most capable suspense films, the anticipation for shocks and instantaneous turns are surrounded by humor. Since Steve Zahn is primarily known for comedies, his casting was an especially competent choice. Jovovich, however, feels consistently inauthentic and her chemistry with Zahn is forced. The foreshadowing is expected and humorous, the misdirection is keen, the scares are a tad gimmicky, the suspense is decent, and the movie-within-a-movie side conversations are relatively cheesy. With lines like “Nothing bad ever happens in Hawaii, right?” by Zahn, and “He’s really hard to kill,” spoken by the red herring’s girlfriend, the barrage of twists is inevitable. It’s too bad that most just aren’t cleverly introduced or defined.

– The Massie Twins

  • 5/10