Steve Zahn, Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphant, Kiele Sanchez, Marley Shelton, Chris Hemsworth
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
With more cinematic muscle than he has exhibited since 2000's "Pitch Black," writer/director David Twohy's "A Perfect Getaway" is an energetic and largely entertaining action thriller set along the beautiful beaches of Kauai or, in this case, Puerto Rico filling in for Kauai.
A surprisingly twisty and often darkly funny B-movie at its core, "A Perfect Getaway" kicks off by introducing us to the honeymooning Cydney (Milla Jovovich) and Cliff (Steve Zahn). In short order, the two are off for an adventurous 11-mile hike after first running into a evil looking hippie couple, ex-con Kale (Chris Hemsworth) and his free-spirited girlfriend, Cleo (Marley Shelton).
Is this a sign of things to come?
Not long after arriving at their starting spot for the hike, the two newlyweds find out about a pair of newlyweds who were brutally murdered in Honolulu. Before long, yet another couple is encountered- an initially more normal seeming Nick (Timothy Olyphant) and Gina (Kiele Sanchez).
As is always true for this sort of film, it doesn't take long before nothing is as it seems and everyone is a potential suspect.
To his credit, and it's been several years since I would give him credit for much of anything, Twohy keeps "A Perfect Getaway" infinitely watchable by tossing in enough twists and one-liners that even if you get the whole thing figured out early on it's quite entertaining watching it all unfold.
A good amount of the credit for the entertainment value of "A Perfect Getaway" lies in its fully engaged cast.
Steve Zahn, who has excelled in everything from "Happy, Texas" to "Joyride," is strong here as the nerdish screenwriter who reveals a bit more of himself and his personality as the film plays out, while Jovovich actually proves she can act with a subtle turn as his better half.
Timothy Olyphant may very well steal the entire film as Nick, a man with a tall story for virtually every occasion but whose motives are unclear for much of the film. Relative newcomer Kiele Sanchez shows tremendous promise as a spitfire Southern girl with zest and attitude.
While they aren't given nearly as much to do, Marley Shelton and Chris Hemsworth definitely do project a sort of "natural born" quality as one of our characters so eloquently points out.
While "A Perfect Getaway" satisfies with its twisty nature, bent humor and largely satisfying performances, there's also little denying that Twohy is still prone to sledgehammer plot exposition. In "A Perfect Getaway," this exposition comes courtesy of a lengthy and grossly unnecessary blue-screen sequence that serves to, essentially, spell out the entire back story that got us to the present. This sequence was a jarring distraction that very nearly caused the entire film to crash land, though it never fully recovers once this explanation is given and Twohy shifts the film into your run-of-the-mill action thriller conclusion.
While the film's one-liners and screenwriter references are clever and often funny, there are times, as well, that Twohy takes these devices over the top and "A Perfect Getaway" almost becomes too hip for its own good.
Mark Plummer's lensing beautifully capitalizes on coastal Puerto Rico, though there are shots of Kauai interspersed at various points throughout the film. There is a split-screen sequence late in the film that is more campy than convincing, and I couldn't quite convince myself the camp was intentional on Plummer nor Twohy's part.
It's going to be an interesting weekend at the box-office, with the opening of expected winner despite its bad buzz "G.I. Joe" and the critical darling "Julie & Julia" opening up alongside "A Perfect Getaway" in wide release. While "G.I. Joe" will likely top the box-office on its opening weekend, here's hoping word of mouth gets some decent buzz for the more modestly budgeted "A Perfect Getaway."
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic