A Perfect Getaway (15)

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A Perfect Getaway (15)

  • Starring: Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphant, Marley Shelton, Steve Zahn, Kiele Sanchez, Katie Chonacas, Chris Hemsworth, Dale Dickey
  • Director: David Twohy
  • Duration: 98 mins
  • Year: 2009

Cliff and Cydney are an adventurous young couple celebrating their honeymoon by backpacking to one of the most beautiful, and remote, beaches in Hawaii. Hiking the wild, secluded trails, they believe they've found paradise. But when the pair comes across a group of frightened hikers discussing the horrifying murder of another newlywed couple on the islands, they begin to question whether they should turn back. Unsure whether to stay or flee, Cliff and Cydney join up with two other couples, and things begin to go terrifyingly wrong. Far from civilization or rescue, everyone begins to look like a threat and nobody knows whom to trust. Paradise becomes hell on earth as a brutal battle for survival begins.


Alison Rowat's Review

Director David Twohy's sprightly thriller is a pleasing reminder that going on a summer holiday is one of the most dangerous activities known to movie man and woman.

It wasn't always so, pop pickers. When Cliff Richard and his capri-panted pals crossed Europe on a big red double decker the worst that could befall a character was exposure to a dodgy lyric and a poke in the eye from an over-Brylcreemed quiff. Today, if the sharks don't get you, the strangely murderous locals will. Wish you were there? Not likely.

Initially, A Perfect Getaway slides into the well-worn grooves of the genre like a Disneyland rollercoaster getting ready to go on its way. Cliff and Cydney (played by dinky Steve Zahn and the statuesque Milla Jovovich) are a pair of toothsome, wholesome honeymooners who have come to Hawaii in search of hiking, fun and drippy conversations about sunsets.

With their trendy Jeep and expensive camcorder, Cliff and Cydney tick the first box in the holiday thriller list. As two ever so slightly smug types whose idea of extreme hardship, we suspect, is under par restaurant service, they are simply crying out for a lesson in the ways of the world outside their privileged existence.

Twohy, the writer-director of supernatural thriller Below and writer of The Fugitive, ticks box two on his list by sending the pair to their first meeting with the locals. The folks at the permit and hiking supplies store seem friendly enough, but check out their brooding son.

Box three, labelled the “portent of doom line”, comes next. “Nothing ever happens in Hawaii, right?” says a confident Cliff to his new bride. Well if it doesn't, mate, we want our money back.

On through the checklist Twohy goes like a director trying to win holiday thriller bingo. Then, just when you think characters and events can't get any more predictable the landscape becomes much more intriguing.

Cliff and Cydney have set out on a hike to an idyllic beach across the island. Since this supposedly secluded island is about as deserted as Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday night, they begin to meet other holidaymakers along the way. The word on the streets of paradise is that a couple of honeymooners have been murdered on a neighbouring island and police are warning everyone to be on their guard.

Cliff and Cydney, already spooked after a run-in with some tattooed, hippy-dippy hitchhiking types, are pleased to get in step with another couple, Nick and Gina (Stop-Loss's Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez from TV's Lost). Nick, who claims to be ex-special forces, is hugely impressed by Cliff's screenwriting career. His army life would make a great story, he tells Cliff, recounting tall tales in between doing an awfully good Nic Cage impersonation. Cliff humours him accordingly, increasingly so as Nick reveals his wilder side.

As Cliff and Cydney begin to wonder if they shouldn't steer clear of this pair too, wouldn't you know it but the bad penny hitchhiker couple start to turn up again. What should our honeymooners do? Turn back, plough on regardless or hole up in a cave for a fortnight wishing they'd opted for a staycation?

By the midway point Twohy has prepared the ground nicely for the shenanigans which follow. A whole shoal of red herrings - or “red snappers” as the clueless Nick calls them - have been released into the waters of the audience's imagination. Through clever prompting, we think we know everything there is to know about these people and how the situation is going to play out. Yet now it seems we don't know our archipelagos from our ecosystems.

Revealing any more would spoil the fun. To be sure, A Perfect Getaway doesn't have the kind of big name cast that inspires confidence. Jovovich, the Ukranian-born supermodel with the legs as long as a pipeline to Siberia, is probably best known for her zombie-slaying abilities in the Resident Evil series than any Hitchcockian bent, but she puts in a standout, calling card performance here as the all-American wife standing by her man. Bigger roles will surely follow.

Twohy, alas, has the habit of starting films well only to lose the thread towards the end. So it turns out with A Perfect Getaway. His frenzied determination to keep the twists coming eventually takes his picture up the creek of implausibility and deep into the realms of extreme silliness, from which point it never returns.

For all its faults, what's satisfying about APG is its willingness to have fun with a genre sorely in need of some R&R. It's too late to go back to the innocence of Cliff and his bus, and the current alternatives - the gruesome Hostel and its like - make you want to never leave home again. A Perfect Getaway might be imperfect, but it's worth writing a postcard home about.