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Arts and Entertainment

Movie Review: A Perfect Getaway

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How did a movie called A Perfect Getaway get away with having a script so manipulative, so self-aware as to be cloying and so bad in terms of its dialogue?

I'll admit that writer/director David Twohy had me going for a while. The awesome jungle setting of Hawaii (with Puerto Rico and Jamaica standing in) and the beautiful Milla Jovovich (Cydney) and Lost's Kiele Sanchez (Gina) were nice to look at. Steve Zahn (Cliff) at his wimpiest and Timothy Olyphant (Nick) at his uber-manliest were entertaining enough.

But there's nothing in Twohy's recent filmography that explains how this thing got greenlit. His last film was 2004's box office disappointment The Chronicles of Riddick. It's in the production notes where one learns that getting the financing took time, with the major studios wanting script changes. Kudos to Twohy for sticking to his guns... but for this?

A Perfect Getaway begins with newlyweds Cliff and Cydney arriving in Kauai by helicopter, setting out to conquer Na Pali Coast State Park's Kalalau Trail. He's a screenwriter with a script in pre-production; she's an aspiring housewife. Soon into their journey, they learn from fellow hikers of a newlywed couple recently murdered in Honolulu. They decide to team up with Nick and Gina, another couple whose affinity for hunting means a tasty meal of barbecued goat, but also raised suspicions.

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According to Twohy, "The story does set up fairly conventionally, like a straight-ahead thriller. But then halfway through it kind of explodes in your face as I turn over all the cards, revealing who the killers are. In doing so, that messes with the audience's sympathies and expectations."

The problem with this statement is that the audience was being messed with far earlier. Cliff's screenwriting becomes a topic of discussion, with Nick suggesting that stories often have "red snappers." "Herrings," Cliff corrects him. "Red herrings." Twohy was practically announcing at that point that the audience is being manipulated. And when he does "turn over all the cards" using a black and white flashback sequence that goes on far too long with stilted dialogue, it's not a pretty picture. (Though the digital infrared technique used to film that sequence is very pretty.)

Throw in a ridiculous chase with comic book transitions, an Indian call center worker as a pivotal plot point and a convenience store employee so dedicated that he utilizes the powers of an aboriginal tracker just to deliver a hiking permit and you've got a movie that you'll want to stay away from, not get away to.

Review by Ryan Vincent

A Perfect Getaway opens today.