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?