Screenwriter: David Twohy
Starring: Milla Jovovich (interview), Steve Zahn, Timothy Olyphant, Kiele Sanchez
Running time: 98 mins
David Twohy's twist-packed thriller is a largely enjoyable whodunnit that only derails once it transforms into a whytheydunnit. Packed full of superb performances, brooding suspense and tense chase sequences, A Perfect Getaway is a refreshingly old school take on the classic 'paradise gone bad' scenario. Be warned though - it's wise to avoid learning too much about the details of the story before seeing this movie, as much hinges on some surprise developments.
All you really need to know is that three backpacking couples stumble across each other on the beautiful and remote beaches of Hawaii, just after a spate of recent murders have occurred. The main focus is on newlyweds Cliff (Zahn) and Cydney (Jovovich), whose honeymoon soon turns into hell as they are cut off from civilisation. We adopt their perspective as they piece together the clues to figure out where the murderous threat is coming from - crazed army vet Nick (the brilliant Olyphant) and his adoring ladyfriend Gina (Sanchez), or two sinister backpackers Kale and Cleo.
Unsurprisingly, after plenty of build up and red herrings, the denouement is very messy indeed. Twohy's script and lens take delight in toying with the audience, openly teasing the viewer through postmodern tongue-in-cheek discussions about screenwriting twists between Cliff and Nick. Sadly. Once a major bombshell is dropped, Twohy forgets the adage of 'show, don't tell' by unleashing numerous flashback sequences that explain exactly what has been happening. Nothing is left to the imagination, and this narrative spoonfeeding not only interrupts the linear flow of the story but reeks of self-congratulation.
Fortunately, this miscalculation doesn't totally overshadow the sheer pleasure of the preceding guessing game, nor the brutal climax that ensues. Twohy's camerawork cleverly sneaks into the private space of Cliff and Cydney, with Zahn and Jovovic both turning in extremely natural and convincing performances as the happy couple. They form a superb contrast with the movie-stealing turn by Timothy Olyphant, who echoes Ash from the Evil Dead series with his wild-eyed mania and unpredictability.
A Perfect Getaway is hardly groundbreaking, but it's a diverting slice of escapism that wallows in manipulating the viewer. It's a shame that it tries to be too clever for it's own good, briefly descending into M. Night Shyamalan territory (not a good thing!), but the engaging acting and frequent suspense pull Twohy's movie through in the end.
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