The problem with the thriller is that formalists like Brian De Palma and Bryan Singer have spoiled them for normal people and critics. We expect our genre entries to confound us, or at the very east to be deconstructions of the genre. Forget dramatic irony, we want expert sequences, and tension to abound. And so David Twohy deserves some credit for what he attempts in A Perfect Getaway. He is aware of genre constructs and addresses them, but he does so in such a way that when he removes the tablecloth and the plates are still standing, no one’s so much impressed as ready for the third act. My review of A Perfect Getaway after the jump, jump (please continue).
Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich star as Cliff and Cydney, a recently married couple in Hawaii for their honeymoon. They run across a creepy couple Cleo and Kale (Marley Shelton and Chris Hemsworth) and then meet Nick and Gina (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez) another couple enjoying Hawaii. It turns out there’s a serial killer couple on the island, and the film plays spin the bottle with the three couples. Of course in a film like this you never know where that’s going to end up. Unless you do.
When someone like a great formalist might have deconstructed genre, or something with A Perfect Getaway Twohy lets you know that he knows what’s going on (Zahn and Olyphant have aspirations of writing screenplays, with Zahn somewhat successful), and spells out twists and important information. But it never becomes the pleasurable ride of a true effort to mess with the audience; instead it seems to be covering the bases. Twohy directs a number of good set pieces, and raises the tensions and changes the stakes at certain points successfully, but I think the main problem with this film is that it shot in Hawaii. There’s nothing wrong with the state, but it often encourages filmmakers to enjoy where they are shooting since it’s such a beautiful location. Though it feels as if Twohy got the move he wanted, there’s so little behind it on any level, that you wonder if he just wanted the vacation.
The performers are fine, and Olyphant is always fun to watch on screen. Though the ending is slightly compromised, it plays fine for what it is, though the difference between the theatrical and director’s unrated cut are marginal at best, and suggests that the theatrical cut may in fact be the director’s cut.
Universal presents the film in a theatrical version (99 min.) and an unrated cut (108 min.) in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS 5.1 HD. Extras are limited to an alternative ending (3 min.) which makes fate less nice for one character. Still, a solid presentation, with a perfect transfer of a modern film.