Friday, February 5, 2010

'A Perfect Getaway' is not a perfect thriller

A Perfect Getaway (2009)
Starring: Steve Zahn, Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez
Director: David Twohy
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A honeymooning couple (Jovovich and Zahn) on a multi-day nature hike in Hawaii discover that brutal killers targeting tourists may have taken refuge in the same area. Can their new friends (Olyphant and Sanchez) be the murderers?

"A Perfect Getaway" is a weakly written thriller that is elevated by good performances by its stars and nice cinematography. While it pulls off its Big Reveal with some skill and "plays fair" for the most part--allowing the viewers to try to solve the mystery of who the murderers are before the filmmakers do--the writer/director's assumption that the viewer will buy into the fact that someone is ex-military or used to work as a butcher makes them spooky and creepy and viable murder suspects is moronic and probably an notion that only someone born and bred in Los Angeles and Hollywood would buy into. Other red herrings presented as the film unfolds are even weaker, leading the film be rather dull and boring.

Unless, of course, you think military people and outdoorsy types are somehow inherently spooky and scary. If you do, then you'll probably find the film to be all sorts of kinds of exciting and thrilling.

That sensation may dissapate, however, when you realize that the murderers are rather idiotic, in that they box themselves in on a dead-end trail and then call attention to their location by notifying the authorities and putting an innocent couple in a really flimsy frame that would break at the slightest scrutiny. (I'm aware that the driving force behind the killers is the psychotic goal one of them has to "live 100 lives" but they can't have been doing it for as long as the story implies if they've been as stupid as they are shown to be here).

It's too bad the good performances here are wasted on such a weak script. All the stars come across as perfectly normal and likeable people (assuming Southerners and military men don't scare you out of hand) and it's especially nice to see Jovovich in a role unlike those she usually plays. And it's surprising that the writer/director who brought us such fun B-movie romps as "Warlock" and "Pitch Black" would blow it so badly when making a more "respectable" thriller. But then that may have been the problem. He was going for "realism," but instead ended up putting Hollywood biases on display?


  1. I went to go see this in the theaters last summer. I must say, this one did creep me out. I didn't read anything about the movie going into it, so the whole twist sort of surprised me. There were more than one couple that did freak me out and kept me guessing.

  2. The film was not completely without surprises, I will grant it that. I should have mentioned that I REALLY appreciated the fact that it has a "happy ending." I was afraid up to the very end that Twohy would blow it completely with the all-too-predictable "twist on the twist" that so many filmmakers like to throw in their to make us think their clever (when it just shows they're bad story tellers in the majority of cases).

    I actually also saw this film "blind." I tend to not read reviews and I don't watch television (except for a handful of shows a friend records for me), so I tend to be somewhat oblivious to what's in movies before I see them. This one I picked up because I like thrillers and Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich are both actors I also like. I didn't even realize it was fodder for this blog until the Universal logo appeared on the screen.

  3. Utter Hollywood tripe, when the wife came back from the mailbox with this one I cringed then gave it an honest chance. Couldnt do it, far too flawed and I couldnt BELIEVE the cop at the end.

  4. You know, I admit to loving "Joy Ride" and when I started watching this, I thought it had the same feel, only a prettier location. They really screwed he pooch on this one. I was so disappointed and disgusted. It had such a great feel to it and the twist at the end was kind of like the ending of "Jeepers Creepers," you just say WTF?

  5. "Joy Ride"? I've heard good things. I will have to seek it out if I ever get caught up with my CURRENT backlog of films to watch.