A Perfect Getaway(2009)
- RatedNC16 /GenreDrama, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Even an actor playing a screenwriter, trapped in a decidedly B-grade film, knows the importance of a delicious twist in a movie.
It’s a metafiction-moment in this thriller by director David Twohy, with the off-beat actor Steve Zahn playing a honeymooning screenwriter speaking to his new friend, a former war veteran played by Timothy Olyphant. Cliff tells Nick that he has a heck of an “Act Two twist” in his script.
Unfortunately, when such a twist is attempted in A Perfect Getaway, it fails to come off. In fact, it is a spectacular failure, for it is not altogether unexpected, and it manages to deflate everything that has come before it.
It practically breaks the compact between the film and its audience. The resultant letdown is akin to that felt by fans of the self-styled suspense/twist master M. Night Shyamalan, from The Village through The Happening.
To be fair, A Perfect Getaway does have a fair share of suspenseful moments.
Twohy, best known for launching Vin Diesel’s career with sci-fi thrillers Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, manages to keep the suspense going -- before the bad twist -- and coaxes good performances out of the cast, particularly from Resident Evil mainstay Milla Jovovich, who plays Cliff’s wife Cydney.
The story begins on a sickly sweet note, as lovey-dovey newlyweds Cliff and Cydney opt to celebrate their union by taking an adventure tour in the Hawaiian Islands.
Once there, they meet a not-so-friendly couple, Kale and Cleo. When Cliff and Cydney learn that another pair of honeymooners had recently been murdered on another island, with the killers still at large, suspicion naturally falls upon the more sinister-looking people they meet.
(Hold your horses: could it be Kale and Cleo? Diabolical!)
Cliff and Cydney next encounter the hard-nosed Nick, who may not have all his marbles intact, after his head had gotten blown open during combat in Iraq.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Nick’s partner Gina (Kiele Sanchez) has experience cutting up pigs at an abattoir, and she pointedly tells the steadily more uneasy Cliff that Nick “is really hard to kill” -- hint, hint. (Could Nick and Gina be the killers? No way!)
Twohy keeps the film on a slow boil, and it takes a long time for the story to really get cooking. It throws up a lot of red herrings (or “red snappers”, as Nick calls them) along the way, and it keeps the audience guessing about what is actually going on.
It’s therefore a pity that the characters have all the attraction of barnacles and there is little reason to root for them. Kiele, as Gina, also has an annoying Southern accent that appears to turn itself on and off on its own accord.
At the tail end of the film, Twohy makes a last-ditch attempt to explore the roles and characters of both the hunter and the hunted, trying to delve deeper than the usual hack-and-slash thriller, but it is a case of too little, too late.
There needed to have been more consistency from the very start, for the latter stages of the movie devolve into a standard stab-and-shoot; killers reveal their true colours and proceedings start to recall elements of Lost episodes.
In the final analysis, A Perfect Getaway does not rise about B-movie status, although it has a good-looking cast and features picturesque scenery. It simply tries too hard to give the audience a jolt, and when that doesn’t come off, it cannot make a clean getaway.
About Yong Shu Chiang
Yong Shu Chiang, otherwise known as SC, is a freelance editor and writer. He reviewed movies for Juice magazine when he was in college, and was the resident film reviewer for Today Newspaper from 2003 to 2005. He has also reviewed movies for Prime Time Morning on Channel NewsAsia.
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