Perfect Getaway, A

As scripted and helmed by David Twohy, “A Perfect Getaway” fails to deliver the thrills of a suspense mystery or exotic gothic horror.  Bizarre but preposterous in terms of plot twists and characterization, the movie has a decent beginning, a mediocre but unbelievable middle, and a last reel that is so weird risible that the audience bursts out laughing at what's depicted or said on screen.


I am not sure about Milla Jovovich, but I think the gifted Steve Zahn, who has given so many good performances in indie films, is not likely to place this feature on his resume; hopefully the paycheck compensates for the embarrassment.

Rogue Pictures will release this flick on August 7, which is a particularly competitive weekend due to the opening of “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” this summer's most anticipated film event.  After a quick playoff, the one-weekend picture should disappear from the screen. 

In the promising credit sequence, a video of their wedding reception at the W Hotel in L.A., Cliff (Zahn) and Cydney (Jovovich) come across as an amiable couple totally into each other.  She's all over him, can't be out of his sight for more than a few minutes and introduces herself as Mrs. Cliff.

To celebrate their honeymoon, the adventurous couple decides to backpack to one of the most beautiful and remote beaches in Hawaii, Hiking the wild, secluded trails.


They believe they’ve found paradise, not exactly lost paradise, because the site is known for its beauty, and it’s also populated by other inquisitive tourists like them.  First encounter is with two mysterious hitchhikers named Kale and Cleo.  One thing leads to another and after a suspenseful exchange and initial denial of giving them a ride, Kale offended and angry at being rejected, decides not to accept the offer.  We expect other, unfriendly encounters between the two couples, and are not disappointed when they occur.  Unfortunately, Cliff and Cydney can’t decide whether any of their new acquaintances are dangerous or harmless.


Later on, the pair comes across a group of frightened hikers discussing the horrifying murder of another newlywed couple on the island.  The news media have reported the case and photos of the suspects are about to be released.  Early on, while waiting to get permits to visit some of the less touristy spots, Cliff’s yellow jeep smashes a newspaper, whose headline reads “Couple Butchered in Hawaii.” Cliff doesn’t see the tabloid but we the viewers do, and so anticipation for suspense and violence begins.


Should they turn back, like normal but “cowardly” people, from their POV?  Cydney is favor of continuing the trail; after all, it’s their wedding present. Cliff, however, unsure whether to stay or flee, gets nervous and edgy and ultra-observant.


Main story details the friendship that evolves between Cliff and Cydney and another couple, Nick & Gina (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez), whom they meet on the trail.  New couple is in love but unmarried, and the marriage is an issue, as Nick has not proposed yet. (That act comes later on at what must be the most risible proposal in American movies). 

The organizational principle of the narrative is that of couples, and there are three of them.  This allows the filmmakers to contrast one pair with another and also to break them up along gender lines.

Thus, at first the wide-eyed city dwellers become fascinated with the rugged pair who hike and hunt together, and swim in the nude and the newlyweds find them exhilarating; at first even trying to emulate their conduct.

Midway, Cydney, in a long monologue, tells Gina a secret from her youth (of how she lost her virginity to the seemingly “dream” man) that reveals too much about her past and identity of Cliff.  Then, switching to black-and-white footage, the director decides to reveal the identity of the real killers, which stops the flow of the narrative and kills the little suspense there was.

From that point on, things begin to go terrifyingly wrong—and dumb.  Far from civilization or rescue, everyone looks like a threat and nobody knows whom to trust.  In the last and weakest reel, helmer realizes that the picture should be a wild, violent actioner (rather than suspenser) and Paradise becomes hell on earth as a brutal battle for survival begins between two couples, between two men, and between two women.


The last third of the movie is not just dark and dire, as intended, but also extreme, weird and ridiculous, with fights, chases, and survival that don’t make any sense–even by movie standards.  When a presumably dead man (who had been shot) suddenly rises from underneath the waters, the audience begins laughing and the laughter continues throughout the end of the picture.

Production values, particularly cinematography by Mark Plummer are good, indicating all the more the disparity between the lush visuals and the pedestrian storytelling, not to mention the poor acting by most thespians except for Zahn.


This is particularly the case of the first, visually alluring reel, in which the camcorder tracks Cliff and Cydney’s departure for Hanalei and their honeymoon on the legendary hiking trails of Kauai. A sightseeing chopper banks to reveal Waimea Canyon, Wai’ale’ale Crater and waterfalls that plunge 3,000 feet. Pods of whales breach the waters on the Na Pali Coast and Kalalau Beach, a golden crescent of sand, is cordoned off from civilization by steep green mountains that dip into the Pacific. There are only two ways in and out of this paradise—by kayak or by the Kalalau Trail, an 11-mile trek along the island’s north shore. The trail spans from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Valley and requires up to two days to complete.

“Perfect Getaway” won't do much to enhance director David Twohy's reputation, which rests on two below-average Vin Diesel's action vehicles, “Pitch Black” and “The Chronicles of Riddick.”



Nick – Timothy Olyphant
Cydney – Milla Jovovich
Gina – Kiele Sanchez
Cliff – Steve Zahn
Kale – Marley Shelton
Cleo – Chris Hemsworth



A Rogue Pictures release of a Relativity Media production in association with QED Intl. Produced by Ryan Kavanaugh, Mark Canton, Tucker Tooley, Robbie Brenner. Executive producers, Robert Bernacchi, Scott Fischer, Mark Fischer. Co-producers, Kenneth Halsband, Camille Brown, Geoffrey Taylor. Directed, written by David Twohy.
Camera, Mark Plummer; editor, Tracy Adams; music, Boris Elkis; music supervisor, Gina Amador; production designer, Joseph Nemec III; art director, Zina Torres; set decorator, Lisa J. Alkofer; costume designer, Laura Goldsmith; sound (Dolby Digital), Steven Grothe; re-recording mixers, Marc Fishman, Tony Lamberti; visual effects supervisors, Jonah Loop, Tim Carras; assistant directors, Myron Hoffert, Joan G. Bostwick; casting, Anne McCarthy, Jay Scully, Freddy Luis.


MPAA Rating: R.
Running time: 96 Minutes