At this point in his career, David Twohy is most recognized for his Vin Diesel series of Riddick films (Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick). A Perfect Getaway, however, is nothing like either of those films as Twohy tells an old-fashioned whodunnit thriller all while mixing in a lot of darkly comic elements. As a matter of fact, he mixes the two so well we come out wishing there had been even more, which ends up serving as both the plus and negative sides to what ends up being a decent feature.
In terms of story set-up this film brings nothing new to the table as a trio of couples hiking on a remote and secluded trail in Hawaii learn of a newlywed couple that was murdered on one of the other islands and all begin to question those around them. Who could the murderers be?
As simple and cliche as all of this sounds, and is, there is an admitted bit of a self-depricating charm to it all. I have a hard time believing Twohy ever took this film, and his script, with a 100% straight face and as long as the audience takes that approach to it you should be able to laugh and have a good time almost every step of the way.
Timothy Olyphant plays an eccentric ex-special ops soldier (or self proclaimed “American Jedi” if you prefer) with a wild imagination, a taste for killing and the most outstanding and thoroughly enjoyable performance of the film. Kiele Sanchez, playing his girlfriend, is just as interesting. For example, after setting off into the jungle with nothing more than a bow and arrow, Olyphant returns to camp with a goat over his shoulders, throws it down to the ground only to be scolded by Sanchez who says, “Would you mind turning it around so the blood doesn’t run downhill and all over our shit?” She follows this up by gutting the animal and narrating as she does it. Even with their brutish behavior, they are a hard couple not to like.
A second couple is played by Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich, both of which also turn in great performances, especially Jovovich who plays a far more light-hearted character than we are used to seeing the Resident Evil star inhabit. Together the two couples make their way through the jungle all while a third couple played by Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek) and Marley Shelton (Grindhouse) show up every so often to keep us on our toes.
A Perfect Getaway is a genre film with all the genre trappings, but the eccentric behavior and the anti-climactic B-movie approach to the film’s final moments make it a little more than cliched drivel. The only major problem the film has is what feels like a studio-mandated flashback tell-all sequence that doesn’t play into the tone of the film whatsoever and seemed to confuse the two dolts sitting behind me more than actually explain the story. It’s a moment when things are rushing along only to come to a grinding halt, completely throwing the film off track and it takes some time to boot back up.
Strangely enough, for a film that’s being sold as a brutal thriller, packed with action and filled with suspense it really isn’t any of that. As a matter of fact, the action packed climax is the worst part of it all until one character gets shot in the head, one runs in slow-motion, three run in a three-way split screen and another repels down the side of a cliff. Had Twohy taken it all even further over the top I think it would have gotten better each time he ratcheted it up, and I can’t help but think the reason he didn’t falls on the studio’s shoulders by not having supreme confidence in the tone Twohy was going for. Too bad.
A Perfect Getaway isn’t without its flaws, but I will at least say it is a satisfying genre entry you and some friends could have a lot of fun laughing with, because this film doesn’t take itself seriously and you shouldn’t either.