A Perfect Getaway
What do we really know about the folks we meet on holiday – and why doesn’t that stop us from spilling our own secrets? Those are the questions percolating through this semi-inventive variation on a Deliverance style thriller.
A honeymooning couple go hiking down a remote but beautiful Hawaiian coastal trail. Cliff is a screenwriter (Steve Zahn). Cydney (Milla Jovovich) is just happy to be there. But they’re both a bit freaked to hear news reports about the gruesome double murder of another honeymooning couple back in the town they just left. Seems the killer(s) removed the victims’ fingers to make identification more difficult. Is it safe to go on?
They decide it is. But they reckon without their fellow travelers. Kale and Cleo (Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton) make them think twice. He’s downright hostile. Nick and Gina (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez) aren’t entirely above suspicion either. His claims to be in Special Ops, and to have liberated Saddam’s palace sound like so much baloney, though he obviously knows his way around the wilderness. Course, most likely all this is in their heads… Why would the fugitives go hiking in a famously isolated beauty spot when it’s so much easier to get lost in a crowd?
Writer-director David Twohy built up a fan-base with Pitch Black and Below, then alienated plenty with the disappointing The Chronicles of Riddick. It’s been five years since then, and Twohy obviously fancied doing something different: instead of studio sci-fi, he’s shot this contemporary thriller entirely on location, with just six significant speaking parts. (Bizarrely, though, the spectacular scenery is actually Puerto Rico, which makes you wonder why they didn’t change the script to accommodate the change of location.)
The Perfect Getaway was probably a relatively easy film to finance – honeymoon horrors are an easy sell – but Twohy has some fun with the bare bones premise. Cliff’s line of work allows for some sly self-reflective humour, with Nick pitching his life story as a potential movie, introducing himself as a red herring (except he mistakenly thinks he’s a “red snapper”) and nominating Nic (Adaptation) Cage as his favourite actor.
The filmmaker also keeps a trick or two up his sleeve, which it would be a shame to reveal here. I will say that the movie struck this critic as an outrageous cheat, but enjoyably so.
The acting is up to scratch for this kind of flick, but you might reasonably expect a bit more in the way of action – not that it really merits being any longer than 97 minutes.
A Perfect Getaway would be pushing it, but it’s a fun, undemanding side trip.
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