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'A Perfect Getaway' Movie Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By

'Perfect Getaway' movie poster.
© Rogue
The name David Twohy might not sound familiar to most people, but he's had a hand in numerous genre films as either writer (Warlock, Critters 2) or director (Pitch Black, The Arrival, Below) or both, not to mention his impressive non-genre screenwriting fare -- including G.I. Jane, The Fugitive and Waterworld (two out of three ain't bad). He's vanished from the scene, though, in the five years since the much-publicized disappointing performance of Pitch Black sequel The Chronicles of Riddick. With A Perfect Getaway, he returns with a smaller scale and less pressure and delivers a tightly bundled package of thrills.

The Plot

Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich) are a pair of clean-cut newlyweds from the snootiest sections of Los Angeles who head to Hawaii for their honeymoon. They plan a three-day hiking trip to a remote beach and along the way, Cliff stops their jeep to pick up a couple of hitchhikers, Kale (Chris Hemsworth) and Cleo (Marley Shelton). Noticing their straggly clothes, though, Cliff makes up an excuse and leaves the sketchy pair by the side of the road.

Later, once the newlyweds begin hiking through the rocky land, they meet a more kindly couple, Nick (Timothy Olyphant) and Gina (Kiele Sanchez). The four of them hit it off well enough and decide to hike the rest of the way together. Along the way, they hear word of recent murders taking place in Honolulu -- committed supposedly by a man-and-woman team -- and soon thereafter, they cross paths with an understandably peeved Kale and Cleo. Immediately, Cliff and Cydney suspect that the hitchhikers could be the killers.

Soon, however, paranoia makes the newlyweds begin to eye their companions with suspicion. Nick carries a knife and tells horror stories about his time as a special ops soldier, while Gina seems to know a bit too much about gutting a goat. With no shortage of suspects, Cliff and Cydney must keep their heads on a swivel as they trek through the wilderness, desperately trying to reach civilization before the killers strike again.

The End Result

Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn in 'A Perfect Getaway'.

Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn in 'A Perfect Getaway'.

© MGM/Rogue
Taking a looser approach than the overly serious Riddick, Twohy's latest effort is a fun, smart whodunit rather than a dark serial killer thriller, a la Seven or The Silence of the Lambs. As can be expected, the writing is a strong point, as Twohy injects twists, humor and a playful Scream-like self-consciousness that uses Cliff's job as a screenwriter as a conduit for the characters to discuss standard thriller elements like red herrings and Act 2 twists -- both of which occur on cue. In retrospect, some of the characters' actions don't seem to gel with the big reveal, but A Perfect Getaway is a fun enough ride that you can forgive some of the fudged details.

The ensemble cast performs admirably, particularly Zahn as the uptight fish out of water and Olyphant as the friendly but imbalanced loose cannon. Unlike most genre films, each of the three couples has a unique and realistic identity, a refreshing depth of character culled from both the script and the actors.

Twohy's direction, meanwhile, is smartly restrained and benefits from the smaller scale and less grandiose expectations of Riddick (with the accompanying less need for CGI effects and Vin Diesel's ego). He manages to maintain tension throughout, even though the action is reserved almost exclusively for the final third of the film -- a rarity in this age of tacked-on scenes whose only purpose is to boost the body count and keep the audience awake. When the action does rev up, Twohy uses some creative points of view to heighten the popcorn fun.

It's not perfect, but A Perfect Getaway is a fine summer retreat.

The Skinny

  • Acting: B (Solid all around, with Olyphant carrying the bulk of the energy.)
  • Direction: B (Maintains an appropriate level of suspense through stretches of inaction.)
  • Script: B (Smart and playful, albeit a bit deceptive.)
  • Gore/Effects: C (Not much gore needed; some of the CGI landscape effects are a bit too unreal.)
  • Overall: B (A fun whodunit with enough tension, mystery and visual flair to keep you engaged.)
    • A Perfect Getaway is directed by David Twohy and rated R by the MPAA graphic violence, language including sexual references and some drug use. Release date: August 7, 2009.

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