Crime Thrillers are a dime-a-dozen in Hollywood. Consider me one of those movie fans who can quite possibly guess a surprise twist and have predicted the twist and turns of a good number of thrillers. I figured out the twist in the first two “Saw” films and I’ve always had a fondness for movies that generate a surprise; as long as the narrative sets the groundwork and it doesn’t seem as if the twist was cheap and lacked credibility. “A Perfect Getaway” is a movie that has a very simple premise but follows the formula of a film that is aimed to generate a ‘surprising twist’. Written and directed by David Twohy (The Arrival), the film manages to generate decent suspense especially in the second half of the film while giving some subtle hints to the final act.
A young couple on their honeymoon, Cliff and Cydney (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich of the Resident Evil
series and The Fourth Kind
) decide to go in a secluded beach in Hawaii for a little romantic getaway. When news of another couple were murdered in the Island, Cliff and Cydney meet up with some suspicious characters. On the way there, the two meet up with a couple named Cleo and Kale (Marley Shelton and Chris Hemsworth respectively) whom they had reservations on picking up while the two were hitchhiking. Kale appeared abusive and Cliff was relieved that they turned down their offer for a ride. Finally, they come across Nick (Timothy Olyphant, Hitman
) and Gina (Kiele Sanchez) who are just very different. Nick is an ex-soldier whose stories can be so outrageous that it is easy to dismiss them as nothing more than fantasy since Nick prides himself as a sort of a Jedi warrior; while Gina is a likable young woman who is just so infatuated with Nick. It is no surprise that the killer couple is still in the island; as Cliff becomes increasingly paranoid the more the two couples spend time with each other.
“A Perfect Getaway” relies on the viewer’s ability to be immersed in the screenplay as so to develop an attachment to its cast of odd characters. It is quite easy to do, since the performances are pretty solid and the foursome of Zahn, Jovovich, Olyphant and Sanchez make for great chemistry and successful dialogue between them. The film manages to pitch in some endearing moments as we see the characters become developed and we take a peek at their backgrounds. There are also several touches of black humor that made me laugh as we see the foursome bond. Some people may say that nothing happens in the film’s first 80 minutes, which is the whole idea; to get the viewers to feel comfortable. The film’s script does manage to entice the viewer in trying to figure out who exactly the bad guys were. It throws in several subtle clues and once the movie reaches its last act, one would have an idea as to the possibilities albeit the screenplay plays rather too strong in its efforts in misdirection that it then became rather obvious.
It is hard to review and analyze this movie without spoilers since it relies heavily on the plot twist to give the film its ‘punch’. The twist is well structured but I have to say I figured it out after the last scene with Cleo and Kale. The film does spend a great amount of time fleshing out its characters and I think this was what saved the movie for me as I did feel a small attachment to the four protagonists. The twist is revealed in the form of flashbacks (sepia like bluish scenes to boot) and while it did appear a little too perfect; quite frankly it almost felt forced. But I suppose the characterization was strong enough that I was able to forgive some of the mistakes in the narrative. Yes, the plot twist does lack a little bit in credibility; I guess this was a good time to hold back a little on characterization and dialogue. Sorry, if this commentary seems a little confusing; I am trying my best not to give out the fine details of its twist.
The cinematography of the film is quite striking as we see the landscapes where the movie was shot; the film is rich in color and it looks very beautiful. It works in some ways to make the viewer feel comfortable as with the characters in the film. The action scenes are a little too outrageous for a film that may have been intended as whodunit thriller when it resorted to some three way split screens. I guess Twohy just couldn’t stay away from doing some gimmicks since his movies “The Arrival” and the “Chronicles of Riddick” relied heavily on visuals that were just a little outrageous. To its credit, the mild gore effects didn't use CGI and relied on old-fashioned prosthetics.
“A Perfect Getaway” does come a little short in nail-biting suspense and may appear a little hampered because it took a little too long to get to where it wants to. The movie may have benefited to becoming a little shorter as to keep its energy and to hide the weaknesses of the twist. I guess sometimes, for a “surprise” to work in a simple script, the film needn’t be too detailed as it would be easier to nit-pick its mistakes. Still, the film does have its B-movie appeal and I think the occasional ‘camp factor’ helped it along in some ways. The best way to look at this film is as a dark comic thriller and not as thrill-a-minute suspense ride. It is a good decent diversion and plus, it does have the ever-likable Milla Jovovich.
RENT IT! [3 Out of 5 Stars]