Written by: Andreus Narain, Special to CC2K
The trailers may look goofy, but this one is surprisingly spry.
A Perfect Getaway is by no means a perfect film, but it is a surprisingly well put together thriller only marred by its underwhelming climax that relies on tried and true storytelling.
It’s been a while since I have seen a movie that created so many different possibilities for the outcome. With such a small cast you would think that only a certain number of events could happen, but it will surely throw you for a few loops. David Twohy (Pitch Black and the Chronicles of Riddick), who wrote and directed this film, must have had the intention of confusing his audience. One character even mentions the idiom used in the film, the red herring. To some intentionally deceiving the audience may seem like cheating, but I believe that its use in the film only helped to propel the intrigue. The film presents some genuinely surprising scenes. As the trailers have stated, you will be talking about the ending after it’s all said and done.
The newlywed couple in the film, Cydney (Milla Jovovich) and Cliff (Steve Zahn), are vacationing to one of the islands in Hawaii for their honeymoon. The tone of the beginning of the movie is so light-hearted that you would think your watching a romantic comedy. The film doesn’t grab you, however, until you meet the second couple, Kale (Chris Hemsworth) and Cleo (Marley Shelton). Kale is a strong character that presents himself as pretty menacing. In his first few scenes his face is even partially hidden, as a way to subtly making him appear to be villain. It’s a cheap tactic, but works well enough. Cliff, on the other hand, is a timid lowly screen writer. Cleo is more of a free spirit, like a hippy without a care in the world. Cydney, sadly doesn’t have much of a personality until more than half-way through the story. I honestly can’t think of a good way to describe her character without spoiling anything.
The next couple, who share half the screen time, is Nick (Timothy Olyphant) and Gina (Kiele Sanchez). Nick is an ex-covert ops, who frequently makes it known to Cliff that he has seen things that would make normal men cry. Gina, like Cydney, is also pretty bland. She has a country girl accent that sets her apart from the other women in the film, but not much else distinguishes her. She does have one great line: “He’s really hard to kill.” After you watch the film you will know what that means.
After Cydney and Cliff meet Nick and Gina they finally hear about the murders. This is where the movie starts to pick up. The story is told from Cydney and Cliff’s perspective, who are constantly wondering which of the two couples is the killers. The best aspect of the film is that tension is constantly being built up and then dropped, like a roller coaster. Just when you think that you know who the killers are something happens that makes you start to wonder if your right. The movie constantly keeping you on the edge.
Back and forth the suspense goes until the killers are finally revealed. This is where I believe the film stated to deteriorate from good thriller to typical summer action movie. I had my suspicions of who the killers where and then when it was revealed in a lengthy flashback I was slightly disappointed. The killer’s motivations wasn’t very clear, nor does it receive much screen time. It is clearly not the focus or even a strong part of the film. You are told passively why they murder couples, but it isn’t the most imaginative explanation. It is just passable enough to keep the story moving.
Let me just say that the ending is one of the hardest parts for me to critique. The tone of the film has been mostly serious. There were a handful number of laughs that broke up the suspense to lighten the mood, but the film is supposed to be serious. In the last few scenes, I don’t think that anyone in the audience had a straight face. The movie took a complete 180 and became cheesy in the sense that you had to laugh. Going in detail would spoils things, but you will definitely be amused. In fact, you will probably start cheering for one of the characters. I honestly can’t tell if Twohy intended for the end to be so humorous or if it was an unforeseen side effect. Either way I enjoyed it.
A Perfect Getaway was a nice surprise for me. It was a good thriller, and had me engaged throughout most of the film. What is necessary for a thriller to work is to build suspense among the different characters to keep the audience guessing. A Perfect Getaway did this pretty well. The revelation at the end of the movie is truly will keep this movie from greatness. The idea was good, however its execution was not. If the killers had better motivation, and didn’t become generic movie villains, the film would have been much better. This romp in Hawaii wasn’t the perfect vacation, but it’s probably the getaway movie goers need, who are looking for some suspense to break up the summer action.