Friday, May 14, 2010

A Perfect Getaway : Tell me again why we came to Hawaii?

Three couples on vacation. Two murderers. One 'you-can-almost-see-it-coming' twist.

Now that I've seen this movie twice, I feel I can comment on it. Truth be told, the first time I saw it months ago, I couldn't figure out whether to like it or not. I was puzzled, felt duped, and wasn't altogether blown away by it.

The second time though, I can actually say I quite enjoyed this little thriller. Headlined by the charmingly arresting Timothy Olyphant (in the best performance of the cast), A Perfect Getaway boasts decent acting, an -at times- convoluted plot that wants to keep you guessing, and a picture-perfect text book ending.

When our adventure starts, we have video playing of a wedding. All the typical craptastic trappings of nuptials and the cheesy reception afterwards are here. Everybody's happy and all that jazz.

Cut to Cliff (Steve Zahn, doing his over-the-top thing) and Cydney (Milla Jojovich - and please tell me why Cydney is spelled like that!), all gung ho in their rented Jeep and flying down the dirt roads of Kauai on their honeymoon.

They've decided to hike to a remote beach, and along the dusty road they meet up with a couple hitchhikers (Marley Shelton, Chris Hemsworth) who try to catch a ride with the newlyweds. Kale and Cleo are a bit off, describing their recent own trip to the altar at a grocery store and looking very much the druggie hippies the director intended. After some uncomfortable moments when Kale realizes Cliff doesn't intend them to come along, they huff off, leaving Cliff and Cydney to their trip.

Finally on the trail, they run into some frightened hikers who tell them about the recent horrific murders of honeymooners on Oahu. Apparently the victims even had their fingers and teeth removed to delay identification.

Shaken up a bit by the news, our duo then encounters Nick (Olyphant) - whom they follow back to his camp and meet his thoroughly southern girlfriend Gina (Kiele Sanchez), utterly naked in a beautiful natural waterfall pond. Nick gets equally as naked (ass shot only, sorry!) and joins her. Soon Cydney does as well (because getting naked with strangers is FUN!) Cliff resigns himself to setting up camp and walking about looking nervous. Perhaps he wouldn't be quite up to par if he stripped off his tighty-whities?

The honeymooners explain about the murders, but the other couple brushes it off, saying it happened on Oahu, and they are in Kauai. They learn a bit about Nick, who is apparently a former Special Ops soldier, a veteran of the Iraq War, and boasts a metal plate in his head from combat wounds. He's even brought a variety of weapons along on the trip. Hmm...

It also seems Gina is handy with a knife, something she demonstrates when Nick brings back a wild goat after hunting with a bow. Okay, so this couple is equally as strange as the two hitchhikers.

Cliff is seemingly more worried about the couple than Cyd, who has struck up a bond with Gina while discussing how her old boyfriend killed a dog and threatened to kill her if she told anyone! And this was right after they'd had sex - some afterglow!

Meanwhile, when Cliff finds the backpack of the wannabe hitchhiker Kale, the two run into each other - with Cliff asking Kale if they are following them. Kale vaguely denies the accusation and when Nick shows up, Kale leaves. Naturally, the thought that the bohemian couple could possibly be the killers rolls around in Cliff's head, adding to the confusion he already has about Nick and Gina.

Seems everybody looks guilty but there is proof of nothing.
Nick convinces Cliff to ignore the other couple and keep on going.

When they finally reach the secluded beach, the foursome enjoy some downtime - frolicking in the waves and playing some volleyball & catch with other tourists.

Soon after, Cliff convinces Nick to take kayaks and explore a marine cave. Leaving Cyd and Gina to hang out at the beach, the two head off towards the caves.

At this point I really need to just stop. If I go further, I give away the movie. Suffice it to say that all is not as it seems. The movie picks up a lot of steam here. Included in the last half hour, and not specifically in this order:

More than one person gets shot, two people get stabbed, and engagement ring is presented, somebody goes off a cliff accidentally and somebody jumps on purpose, a 911 call is made, an ax is thrown, everybody runs like they are in Chariots of Fire, the police arrest two people, somebody's hand is sliced nearly in two, rock climbing is attempted, and a twist messes everything all up. Like I said, a lot going on.

A few things irritate me. One of which is certainly Milla Jojovich. Can I just admit I'm not a big fan of hers? She is basically fine, acting-wise, in this film. But I don't like the look of her. To me, she seems a bit manly. I never got her appeal as a model. I think it's why Resident Evil didn't do much for me, and it's also part of the reason why The Fourth Kind fell flat for me as well.

Another somewhat annoying factor in this film is the fact that the director felt it somehow necessary to reveal the twist about two-thirds of the way into the film. Leaving the last third feeling like the end of a Law & Order episode at best. "Let's tie these ends up before the credits roll!"
Yes, there is a good amount of action in the final act, but the screenplay would have been better if the disclosure of pertinent facts was nearer to the end. They stop short in the film, suddenly turning it to black and white so that we are forced to recognize this is the past, and "here's how it went down".

While those few things are bothersome, the film still succeeds in the first half at least, building the characters storylines and having the viewer putting together several scenarios in their head trying to figure things out. To be sure, it took me awhile to see the light.

Timothy Olyphant, as previously mentioned, was the defining character here. His acting is spot-on, from his suspicious ramblings about being 'hard to kill' to his he-man hunting skills that shock and awe the honeymooners, he really is the real reason to see this film.
And let's face it, he's easy on the eyes - always a plus.
But I kept waiting for him to pull out his cowboy hat and grab a gun & start shooting, à la Justified.
Didn't happen though.

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


Emily said...

Great review! I couldn't agree more about Olyphant. I snuck into this one after District 9 and still feel bad I didn't send a few bucks its way. I wasn't expecting anything, but I found myself constantly looking at my friend and giggling at every other Olyphant line. Not a great film by any means, but a nice little watch and one shamefully saddled with dreadful marketing and an even worse release date.

C.L. Hadden said...

Emily: They totally marketed this movie as horror, which it most certainly is not. It's a thriller!

...And I giggled at Olyphant as well. Yum yum!

Thanks for reading:)

The Mike said...

I completely love this movie. It's not something that's technically great, and the plot requires a few huge leaps of faith, but you're spot on in pointing out how much Olyphant lends to the flick. Plus I just love the tone the film sets as a thriller that's just trying to have some fun and keep you on your toes.

Great write-up!