Spoilers follow, and might provide clue as to who the killer is. Seriously, be careful, don’t say I didn’t warn you!*
Being a rabid movie fan, there’s nothing worse than getting older. With every year that passes, I see another 100+ movies, learn a little bit more about filmmaking and see a few things on screen that are (always shockingly) new to me. The fact of the matter is, I’ve nearly seen it all. Every new movie stems from a classic, and most can never find a way to do it better. Here lies the dilemma as a filmmaker and a studio executive – do they attempt to do something clever and new, or just stick with a formula that has worked for years before their time? That’s what’s so confusing about David Twohy’s A Perfect Getaway, it appears to attempt to be clever and original, only it ends up being one of the most obvious thrillers I’ve seen in years… and the audience ate it up. Maybe I’m clueless.
The film opens with a wedding video montage cross-edited with Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich talking about their “happy day.” The duo head off on their honeymoon where they hear about two killers who murdered a newlywed couple near the Hawaii islands. While hiking down a secluded trail they meet two different couple who might or might not be the killers. Suspense ensues, or at least is should.
For those of you sitting in my seat – who figured out the “twist” in literally seconds (I’m not kidding) – the glue that holds this movie together is the incredible cast of Timothy Olyphant, Milla Jovovich, Steve Zahn and Kiele Sanchez. It’s no wonder Milla is cast in so many genre films because she has a special glow that’s mesmerizing and enchanting (she was a supermodel). On the contrast is Timothy Olyphant, who literally steals the show (especially with his Nicolas Cage impression, worth the price of admission alone). His character is given some heavy exposition that he dances circles around and somehow manages to keep this trite thriller afloat (and remotely interesting). Even Steve Zahn puts on such a great performance it makes you wonder why we don’t see him on the big screen more.
The major downfall comes in Twohy’s screenplay, which feels more like a writing exercise than a serious attempt at making a drama-filled thriller. Twohy hits every single beat they teach you in film school, almost to the second, in fact, he made the screenplay self-referential so the characters IN the movie can explain to you exactly what’s going on (although you might not want to listen to Olyphant’s character as he says “red snapper” instead of “red herring”). The screenplay is so astoundingly cliché that a seasoned film fan should be able to predict nearly every single frame of the movie. On the other hand, it works quite well for the average moviegoer…
While I can argue back and forth about the merits of the screenplay, there is one moment in particular that deserves some reprimanding. Near the finale of the film, Twohy inserts an excessively long flashback to explain what exactly happened up until the twist, as if you couldn’t figure it out for yourself. He ensures that you will be completely removed from the movie by flushing the color palette with blue, just so you now it’s a flashback and not present day. Recovering from this scene is rough… resume watch checking now.
Beyond the screenplay, Twohy shocked me a bit with his newly modified “mumblecore” directing style. Mumblecore is used to create an expensive look to a micro-budget film and he’s using it in a big budget feature, which is not only annoying but also slightly agitating visually. It’s an interesting idea that creatively didn’t work. When Twohy goes back to his old ways, it’s much more engaging and a lot easier to follow.
It’s relative whether or not this movie is “good” or “bad”. Rogue Pictures and David Twohy have crafted a perfect movie for the young teenage crowd as I witnessed them all cheering firsthand. For those of you who haven’t seen a ton of movies yet, I could see you not only enjoying this thriller, but also being fully engaged until the very last frame (sans the flashback scene). Unfortunately, I’m the guy who figured out the twist during the first line of dialogue.