A Perfect Getaway

I was excited to go watch “A Perfect Getaway”. It’s been a while since Hollywood has dished out a slick sexy thriller. This one seemed promising, showcasing two of my favorite actors, the captivating Milla Jovovich and the always underrated Steve Zahn (whom according to me deserved an Oscar for his stunning performance in “Rescue Dawn”). Shot in Hawaii and written and directed by David Twohy (“Pitch Black”), I sat in the theatre expecting a sensuous badass thriller.

The premise is simple: two couples meet while island hopping, when news breaks out of murderers stalking and killing tourists. What started off as a heavenly honeymoon soon becomes a game of cat and mouse as both couples try to figure out who the murderers are, while trying to stay alive.

“A Perfect Getaway” falls flat really quickly, mostly due to its over-expository dialogue under the pretence of Zahn’s character being a screenwriter. Much like the Scream movies, most of the scenes are saturated with self-referential banter alluding to red herrings, first second and third acts and the proverbial final twist. Although the concept was witty in the 90’s when Kevin Williamson exploited it to its maximum potential, Twohy’s self-conscious screenwriting disserves him. A thriller is nothing without its intrigue. That being said, when the intrigue is constantly spoon fed to you by characters fastidiously explaining the film’s structure as it unveils itself, the viewer is deprived from the visceral anticipation that comes from the unknown and the unexpected. Ironically, the entire movie pivots around its final twist, which resultantly comes off as anything but unexpected.

The handling of the final twist in “A Perfect Getaway” is clumsy. Not only does it fail to surprise or shock the audience, but Twohy manages to render it anticlimactic. Instead of going straight to the thriller’s climax after the great reveal, Twohy once again chooses to explain in great detail the murderers’ backgrounds and motives through endless black and white flashbacks, needlessly killing the film’s momentum. By the time the flashbacks end, the disappointed audience is left anxiously waiting for the theatre lights to turn on.

The film’s sole redeeming factor is Twohy’s insistence on fully developing its characters before throwing them in the grinder. The thriller’s two first acts are completely dedicated to getting to know its colourful protagonists and watching them interact. Thankfully, the cast brings it on with devoted zest and enthusiasm. Jovovich and Zahn, despite the little chemistry between them, ably carry the film and as for its supporting cast, Timothy Olyphant comes back in great form after a series of humiliating one-dimensional performances (“Hitman”, “Live Free or Die Hard”), and up and coming actor Chris Hemsworth (“Star Trek”, “Thor”) eats up the screen despite his limited screen presence.

It is a wonder why Twohy chose to underplay his cast’s sex appeal and overexpose his script’s structure. Although I am sure his intentions were good (a thriller showcasing three-dimensional characters instead of sexed up caricatures), maybe a little less plot exposition and a little more flesh could have, for once, made this thriller a memorable one. That being said, “A Perfect Getaway” definitely outshines the panoply of Hollywood thrillers to have come out lately, however still confirms my theory that American thrillers lag behind European ones. I’d watch “Eden Lake” over this film anytime, and so should you.

Review by Ralph Arida