Three couples. An isolated part of Hawaii. The very real possibility that two of our paired paramours are actually serial killers. Sounds like the "perfect" setup for 90 minutes of nail-biting suspense -- and perhaps it would have been, had someone other than David Twohy been behind the lens. Far more famous for almost ending Vin Diesel's career (with the elephantine flop The Chronicles of Riddick) than for his otherwise effective genre work (Pitch Black, Below) this screenwriter turned director has been MIA for the five years it took Hollywood to get the foul taste of Helion Prime out of its mouth. Sadly, A Perfect Getaway is not a return to form. Instead, it's further proof that Twohy might be the cinematic version of a one (or two) hit wonder.
While on their honeymoon in Hawaii, Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich) decide to hike to a remote beach far off the beaten path. Along the way, they run into hitchhikers Cleo (Marley Shelton) and Kale (Chris Hemsworth). After a disagreement, our lovebirds leave them needing a ride. Next, Cliff and Cydney meet up with Nick (Timothy Olyphant), an ex-GI with a wealth of larger than life stories. Back at camp, they find Gina (Kiele Sanchez), the colorful vet's better half. Soon, they all learn the troubling news. There has been a horrible murder on the main island, and the police are looking for two suspects -- a man and a woman. Almost immediately, everyone's antsy. When Cleo and Kale show up unexpectedly, tensions rise even further. Soon, it's a calculated game of cat and mouse between the hunters and their prey. Article continues below
One hour. That's how long it takes for anything to happen in David Twohy's lumbering snooze-fest A Perfect Getaway -- and even then, the "action" is muted by a desire to make things deep and psychological. For almost two-thirds of its running time, this film jerks us around, falsifies relationships, and creates one of the most untenable thriller dynamics ever. Without giving too much away, let's just say that it's really not difficult to determine who our bad guys are. There are only three couples available and a process of elimination does away with at least one pair quite quickly. That just leaves two more, and Twohy thinks he'll be clever by changing the relevancy of his red herrings every few minutes. One scene, Olyphant's Iraq war casualty is acting like a psychopath. The next, he's everyone's best pal. It's the same treatment that's given to parolee Kale and his shady lady Cleo.
By the time the first potential victim is vetted, A Perfect Getaway has long since worn out its welcome. The last act bursts of violence are not novel. Instead, they barely fill the void left by Twohy's endlessly talkative script. Sure, Zahn, Jovovich, and Sanchez are good, but only Olyphant seems to understand the proper tongue-in-cheek response to such unfettered filmic cheese. Every one of his line readings drips with the kind of devil-may-care campiness the movie desperately needs. Had Twohy turned up the blood, or turned down the yapping, we might have had something worth watching. Instead, we are forced to sit back as the director indulges in false scares, random shocks, and an awful flashback sequence that defies easy description.
It's hard to imagine who will enjoy this exasperating experience. There's not enough narrative invention to warrant the attention of die-hard fright fans, and those looking for edge-of-your-seat suspense will be sadly disappointed. David Twohy may have once had what it takes to drum up some decent dread. In this case, A Perfect Getaway is a failure, and a highly flawed one at that.