Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Movie Review: A Perfect Getaway

A Perfect Getaway ** ½
Directed By: David Twohy.
Written By: David Twohy.
Starring: Steve Zahn (Cliff), Timothy Olyphant (Nick), Milla Jovovich (Cydney), Kiele Sanchez (Gina), Marley Shelton (Cleo), Chris Hemsworth (Kale).

The problem with movies like A Perfect Getaway, which relies on a final act twist to shock the audience, is that if you figure out the twist before it is revealed in the movie, you spend much of the time simply waiting for the movie to catch up with you. With A Perfect Getaway, I guessed the twist ending about 20 minutes into the movie, and was sure I was right by about the 45 minute mark. That the movie is very well made, very well acted, and when not trying to throw us off the scent of the secret, well written, by the time the movie does spring its surprise on us, I found I no longer cared.

The movie is about Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich), a recently married couple on their honeymoon in Hawaii. They decide that they want to take an extended hike to a secluded beach on one of the islands. Along the way, they meet two other couples. First is the creepy Kale (Chris Hemsworth) and the seemingly naïve Cleo (Marley Shelton). Next is the elite army officier Nick (Timothy Olyphant) and his good old Southern gal girlfriend Gina (Kiele Sanchez). The news in Hawaii is dominated by the recent murder of another couple on their honeymoon, apparently at the hands of a man and woman team of killers. At first, Cliff suspects that perhaps Kale and Cleo are behind the attacks, and so they stick close to Nick and Gina. But Nick and Gina seem to be a little too comfortable with blood and violence, so they being to suspect them. As they walk along the almost deserted path with Nick and Gina, with Kale and Cleo somewhere behind them, they start to get more and more nervous and scared.

Now it would not be much of a movie if the murderers do not make an appearance at some point. I will not reveal who the killers are, but if you’re like me, you will not have too much trouble piecing the mystery together. I especially loved how they made Cliff into a screenwriter, and Nick into a movie buff who believes that his life would make a great movie. As the two of them start debating story structure, and second act twists and “red snappers” (Nick means red herrings, but doesn’t know that he is wrong). The film’s first two acts, even if they are a little obvious, are also quite entertaining, as writer/director David Twohy quietly builds suspense and suspicion, without being too obvious about it. He makes you identify with Cliff and Cydney, while casting suspicion on everyone else in the movie, to the point where you are just as paranoid as they are. But there is nothing that is so overt that we can see can say with certainty who the killers are.

It’s the third act where the movie falls apart. Once the twist is revealed (in an utterly ridiculous five minute black and white sequence that reveals everything that the filmmakers held back from us to that point), the film devolves into one fight sequence after another, one chase after another, one cliché after another. That it is handled with skill (with the exception of that black and white sequence) does not really matter, because by then we do not care. We know what is going to happen well before the characters do, and we simply sit there and wait for the movie to end.

A Perfect Getaway is two-thirds of a great thriller. You could not ask for better performances. Zahn is perfect as the cowardly everyman, Olyphant in fine form as the manly man soldier, Jovovich is the proper mixture of sexiness, and toughness and Sanchez, who I can never recall seeing before, is particularly good as the Southern girl who is not as dumb as she looks. In much smaller roles, Hemsworth and Shelton are just about perfect. Director Twohy is much better working with a pared down script like this - and his previous films Pitch Black and Below - then he is with mega production (the less said about his horrid The Chronicles of Riddick the better). If only he had found a better way to end his film (which, sorry to say, would have been just about anything else), we could have had a classic thriller on our hands. Because he doesn’t A Perfect Getaway is a perfectly adequate thriller, no more, no less. If I am disappointed in the film, it’s because it could have, and should have, been much better.

1 comment:

  1. A Perfect Getaway, a thrilling horror movie directed by David Twohy, is about a few pairs of lovers who while vacationing in Hawaii, learn about tourists being stalked and murdered by psychopaths. An expert thriller about trust and the dangers of it. Crazy, twisty, gripping, and slam bang. Download A Perfect Getaway movie here.