A Perfect Getaway

A Perfect Getaway


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Hawaii, specifically the pristine Kalalau beach, 11 difficult miles of trail along the cost of Kaua'i, nestled at the foot of the Kalalau Valley, the heart of Na Pali Coast Park: it's beautiful, remote, and in this thriller by David Twohy, dangerous.

A couple on honeymoon are brutally murdered in Honolulu. Days later, newlyweds Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich) arrive, and as they hike along the trail facts of the murders start to come out - the killers were themselves a couple, the identies of the victims unknown because of mutilation. Isolated and uncertain, they start to become concerned, and then the twists really start to kick in.

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Hitchhikers Kale and Cleo are the first to arouse suspicion, Chris Hemsworth (Kirk's dad in Abrams' Trek) and Marley Shelton (Dr Dakota Block in Grindhouse) are straggly folks, tagging along behind, and then there's Nick and Gina - he claims to be a Special Forces type, she's his off and on girlfriend, and again the stories don't quite add up. Olyphant's genial as movie fan Nick, a man who claims to have survived all manner of catastrophes more or less intact, and he's got the action movie chops to back it up. Kiele Sanchez (the covetous Mrs Goodman from Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium) is convincing as his suffering partner.

It's Jovovich and Zahn who really make the film, though, ably carrying the picture and producing a genuine sense of tension as events unfold. Despite her monolithic turn in Ultraviolet Jovovich can, and does, really act, and Zahn shows the same abilities that kept focus on him in Herzog and Bale's Rescue Dawn. In fairness, they're helped by David Twohy's script, and as with his other writer/director projects A Perfect Getaway plays with genre expectations with genuine glee. This is a fun film, genuinely exciting, twisty like the mountain trails, with uncertain footing throughout.

There's plenty of "red snappers", as it's put, cunning signposts scattered here and there, and as the film builds to its denouement there are all manner of reversals. Shot in Hawaii, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, it's visually stunning, the HD wedding video of Cliff and Cydney neatly cut into the opening of the film, the score featuring the Prague Philharmonic and no small measure of island sounds keeping pace as it segues from gentle romance into suspense and beyond.

Cinematographer Mark Plummer and editor Tracy Adams deserve to be mentioned for their work too, the cuts between flashbacks and the glimpses of activity in the forest, the sudden introduction of split-screens and freeze-frames not only feel right, they brilliantly support the mood and action. There is a descent into shaky-cam territory and the wonders of obscure-o-scope in some of the action sequences, but no worse than what's in the trailer, and the measure of confusion it produces in the audience is clearly deliberate - the identities of the killers is a mystery, and we, too, are kept guessing.

This is a return to the island for Twohy, whose last visit was as half of the script team for the disastrous Waterworld. It's pretty safe to say that's over the horizon now though, and this is his island picture. It's witty, fun, the three couples are made of six great performances that give the sense of real people, real feelings, and the plot thickens with the jungle as the trail winds ever deeper into it. This is a romantic thriller, possibly even genuinely a Romantic thriller: a moment of beauty, recalled at leisure; affected and shaped by the party recollecting in an ephemeral, intriguing way; all that poetry and heart-stopping too. This is a treat, a captivating delight - A Perfect Getaway itself.

Reviewed on: 29 Jul 2009
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A Perfect Getaway packshot
Two couples walking on a remote trail hear over the radio that a couple of psychopaths are on the loose.
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Director: David Twohy

Writer: David Twohy

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphant, Steve Zahn, Kiele Sanchez, Chris Hemsworth

Year: 2009

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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