By the time August rolls around, most of the big blockbusters have faded into the sunset and studios, desperate to ink out a few more dollars in the dog days of summer, start unleashing their B-round of films. These movies are generally worthless and forgettable, hardly worth the $10 price of admission. Going into A Perfect Getaway, a largely un-marketed thriller from Universal Pictures, this is exactly what I expected. Thankfully, the movie is surprisingly entertaining and well done, despite a rather disastrous third act.
A Perfect Getaway stars Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich as a recently married couple who've traveled to Hawaii for their honeymoon. They set out on a three-day hike to a secluded beach, despite rumors that a couple of savage killers have made their way to the island after a brutal slaying on Oahu. They connect up with another couple, played by Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez, but immediately begin to suspect that their new friends, who are proficient at hunting, killing and skinning animals, are the killers.
To call A Perfect Getaway "mindless" would be incorrect, as in many ways it's a very well-written thriller. The dialogue is top notch and evokes a lot from its cast of actors, a surprisingly recognizable collection of performers given a movie like this. The movie is at times suspenseful and at other times funny, and it's this blend that makes the picture work. Say what you will, but the movie is consistently entertaining and enjoyable to watch.
Beyond the beautiful scenery and the surprisingly effective glossy direction by David Twohy, who also wrote the film, Zahn and Olyphant really make things gel. Zahn delivers one of his more serious performances, and yet still manages to pull off the goofy demeanor that audiences like about him. Olyphant also does what he does best, playing the almost-crazy, slightly creepy but still extremely likable Jack Nicholas-esque dude. Olyphant is the star of the show.
(MAJOR SPOILER ALERTS)
The twist ending sucks. I mean, it really sucks. Some people have said they saw it coming, but I won't go so far as that (though I've heard that there is a trailer that markets the "big twist" - if I knew a twist were coming I would probably have figured it out). However, it is extremely forced and, frankly, unnecessary. The movie is entertaining enough that a straightforward conclusion would have sufficed, but instead Twohy messes everything up, creating absurd plot holes that wouldn't have existed otherwise. After the twist is revealed, when you think back upon the earlier scenes, there are several that just don't make any sense. Basically, Twohy outright lies to the audience, and not in a satisfying way.
Beyond the twist, the climax is also disappointing. Twohy builds Olyphant's character up as a military badass, but when it finally comes time for him to live up to his potential, he barely gets to do anything. Furthermore, the good guys don't even get to do much, with one of the killers betraying the other to the police. It's never explained what happened to her, either, or why the police believed her in the first place.
More than anything else, another ten minutes of action ending with a brutal showdown between the good and bad guys would have made this picture work so much better, bad twist ending or not. As is, the film ends incredibly abruptly.
Strangely, even though the ending is so absurdly bad, I still like A Perfect Getaway. It is genuinely entertaining. It's just a shame that I have to recommend it with a caveat.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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