Theoretically there's a reason for A Perfect Getaway to exist-- people like movies set in exotic locations, I guess, and the leads aren't bad to look at for an hour and a half. But thrillers generally need a sense of drama or at least suspense to work, and A Perfect Getaway is so jumbled and uncertain that, even if you haven't figured out the "shocking twist" by the end, you won't care when you learn it.
Set on a remote Hawaiian island in the midst of a killing spree that's targeting honeymooners, the movie finds three couples hiking the same trail through lush jungle and picture-perfect beaches. Obviously, one couple is the killers. Could it be bearded, hot-tempered hippie Kale (Chris Hemsworth) with his strung-out wife Cleo (Marley Shelton)? Or how about former military guy Nick (Timothy Olyphant) who carries a crossbow, accompanied by the Southern belle girlfriend Gina (Kiele Sanchez) who can skin and butcher a goat in minutes?
The third option, of course, is that it's our main characters, Los Angeles-based newlyweds Cydney (Milla Jovovich) and Cliff (Steve Zahn), who we meet all cuddles and smiles as they take the helicopter ride to the island. For some reason they're obsessed over the newlywed murders but stick on the hiking trail anyway, even when they get word that the authorities believe the killers are headed their way. They team up with Nick and Gina on their hike when they become convinced that Kale and Cleo must be the killers, but spend the whole time convinced they're probably the killers too. It takes a long, long time for the movie to get around to revealing the actual killers, enough time for us to watch the couples sit around and gab in tents a long time and wonder where the thriller part of this movie actually comes in.
Director David Twohy, who has gotten a reputation for making smarter-than-average schlock, imbues A Perfect Getaway with a strange movie metaphor-- Cliff is a screenwriter, and Nick is constantly coming up with movie ideas while Cliff bats them away with speeches about screenwriting theory. It's like the ending of Scream, where the killers wax philosophical about their favorite horror movies, except all the screenwriting lingo comes without reference within the movie. It's intended to make us question the structure of the movie we're in, but the result is just cryptic and irritating.
It's clear that there's a brain operating behind A Perfect Getaway, and everything from the on-the-nose dialogue to the endless blue-tinted flashback halfway through the film that 'explains everything' are part of a larger aim toward... something. The only time this really works is in a long monologue scene where Cydney tells Gina a story about a bad boyfriend from her past. It slows down the movie's already-glacial pace, and only pays off obliquely in the end, but Jovovich's open acting and the accessible, universal story give Cydney character developments while the others are mostly tossing off quips or vague threats. Not that you really need strong characters in a murder thriller, per se, but given how little action there is too, you really ought to have one or the other.
Opening against G.I. Joe and Julie & Julia, A Perfect Getaway occupies some strange middle ground for people in the mood for not much thinking and a little action, but not too much. I don't feel particularly regretful having seen it, but a week later, it's fading fast. Rather than loving or hating it, I find it hard to care about at all.
Reviewed By: Katey Rich
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