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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I recently saw the title 'A Perfect Getaway' pop up in a list in a blog
titled "Films Misunderstood: Hollywood's Best Retroactively Redeemed
Failures". On that short list of 8 films among which are 'Zabriskie
Point', 'Fire Walk With Me' and 'Johnny Guitar', the 2009 thriller
looked very out of place, but then again I hadn't seen it and so my
interest was peaked because the rest of the list and the accompanying
write-ups seemed reasonable enough even if few of the selections are
actually favorites of mine.
Long story short, I watched 'A Perfect Getaway' and thought it was pretty damn meta. A news story gets our couple suspicious and worried all the time instead of them enjoying their honeymoon, because of course they SHOULD be suspicious, one of those three couples have to be the killers, otherwise there wouldn't be a movie. The main dude is a scriptwriter and there really is a lot of talk and references to scriptwriting, more obvious ones like talking about "the story's second act" at the 40-minute mark as well as more sneaky ones like "it's just a few miles to the beach, but lots of twists and turns ahead". The film got this whole couples-suspecting-each-other-and-nobody-trusting-anyone thing going which it could have seriously explored (like a sort of variation of 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre', or maybe more like Body Snatchers) but it isn't interested in doing that at all and instead exploits this situation to play with audience expectations (one minute this couple seems suspicious, the other minute the other couple seems suspicious,...).
Then the protagonists are revealed as the killers which would be completely ridiculous and unacceptable if it wasn't such a great "F you" to the audience. We see them being completely different people in a black and white flashback that brings the film to a total halt (just hilarious) showing that they put up a facade for everyone including the viewer (pretending that they are afraid of some killers roaming about for half the film, even when nobody else is around who could witness their conversations). The guy talks about his "nothing exists until we get there, until we put our eyes on it, like the whole world was manufactured for our wants and needs" philosophy which, I thought, was a reference to this facade that could never allow a viewer to fully trust any character to be what the movie wants you to believe the character is (especially in mystery thrillers), and a reference to how we perceive fiction in general, really.
So in the last act the roles are completely reversed and the viewer is successfully made to root for the sort of perfect, experienced tough couple (the guy's over-the-top stories were actually true) as they have to defeat themselves against the murderous but otherwise sort of average, boring couple, which would have never worked without the preceding 'Psycho'-esque switch of main characters. In the last act the film also suddenly becomes extremely stylized, especially in terms of editing, like a relatively straight forward high octane thriller, but it has this special edge to it because of how we were introduced to the "bad guys".
Allegedly nothing that has been said or done by our (first) protagonists in the first half of the film betrays what we later learn about them. And yeah, many lines take on a different meaning in retrospect and it's probably all covered with the couple's decision to "always stay in their characters" but it's a very lame explanation if we are honest. In any case, being completely logic or not doesn't change the fact that the film is so extremely selective in what it chooses to show and let the viewer hear, I'd still feel a bit cheated afterwards if I hadn't accepted early on that the film's #1 objective was to play around with its viewers.
The photography looks like pretty mindless point-and-shoot so visually it seems effortlessly gorgeous with its paradise location in oversaturated colors, and Milla Jovovich fits right into that, utterly unglamorous but still eye-candy. So yeah, that was something else, sort of like a less upfront 'Scream' and with Timothy Olyphant in the cast (who I still best remember for 'Scream 2') there actually is a direct connection to the Scream franchise. A pretty unexpected clever film coming from a guy with David Twohy's previous credits. If you find the post-modern, self-referential nature of 'Scream' more annoying than clever and fun it's likely that you will have a similar reaction to 'A Perfect Getaway', but if you are a fan of the Wes Craven / Kevin Williamson franchise then this one certainly comes highly recommended.
When I watched this film I was at a friends house with a bunch of
people. They said they had a movie to watch and I never heard of it
before. Had no idea what type of movie or anything it was gonna be
either. So as we started watching it was looking like a typical chick
flick movie witch is OK but not my favourite. Then little things start
happening and you start to wonder what is going on here.
When things started happening it was built up in such a way that I totally thought that it was someone doing the things but it turned out to be totally not what I expected. I loved the way that they did that. Caught me totally off guard. From being a chick flick turning into a bit of a mystery then to a horror movie with some really cool plot twists. Loved it. It is a definite watch twice movie to catch all the hints that are through out it. A Perfect Getaway was definitely not the perfect getaway for those who died in the film but It was definitely a good movie. One that you could trick your girl friend into watching with you, thinking it is a chick flick. Then she will be clinging onto you as things start happening :)
This is actually quite a good suspense/thriller with interesting characters who aren't the usual stereotypical ones you see in so many suspense movies. I've seen a lot of movies with so-called twists that just don't add up, but this movie does not cheat on the twist, as some reviewers have said. An attentive viewer will be satisfied with the surprise (if you haven't read the spoilers or looked at too many of the photos of scenes from the movie). You might have to watch it again to see just how the script so cleverly intertwines the clues with the red herrings. I have to admit I've seen it three or four times, the second time to see if the clues really added up, and the 2nd-4th time because of the characters, and especially because of Tim Olyphant. Also, as the last reviewer said,this movie is about more than just the plot. If you just want killer-stalking-prey scenes over and over or lots of violence, this probably will disappoint you.
I don't know what those who gave it less than 7/10 were watching but it cannot have been the same film as me!! I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and i am putting it in my all time top 20 without a doubt. My only regret being not seeing it at the cinema as Hawaii looks amazing. The characters were solid and the writers threw plenty of curve balls at us which we gladly accepted.I gave it a 9/10 as it's the best thriller i've seen in the past 4-5 years or more. I am going to recommend it to family and friends as it's an absolute cracking thriller. I thought Timothy Olyphant's character was totally unbelievable at the beginning as i even thought he couldn't swim. I must keep an eye out for the director and any future work. I reckon the newspaper on the floor at the beginning was put there to make us go "ok I know how this goes" which it did , which is why i got it all so wrong but I loved the film an excellent movie and a good advert for Hawaii.
"The Perfect Getaway," is a who-done-it thriller that has mass appeal.
The mixture of story, acting, and cinematography work together to make
this a film that keeps the audience engrossed and filled with a sense
of isolated ominous beauty. As with all mysteries, TPG is going to be
viewed and interpreted on a statistic like curve. Some viewers will
have the twists figured out within thirty minutes while others will
need about an hour. The issue of predictability is not really a boon or
bane to the film. From very soon into the film, the audience is aware
that this is a mystery and that some form of twisty revelation is bound
to occur. Criticism is more usefully aimed at the development of the
story and the characters. All in all, the movie is a great deal of fun
and accomplishes the goal of being a coherent yet convoluted mystery
The mystery genre hinges on challenging the audience to figure out who the antagonist is. TPG is a standard mystery in the sense above. The audience is quickly introduced to a murderous context and then challenged to figure out which character or characters have done or will do murder. In this sense, TPG is exactly what one would expect from a mystery. What distinguishes TPG is the coherency of the story, dialogue, and character acting. It is this reviewers opinion that what determines the success of a film is not just how well a film follows genre rules, but, also how innovative and well done the movie employs those same rules. In the case of TPG, the rules are strictly followed and there is enough innovation to make the film fresh. The story is genre standard in that it is a permutation of the "dangers while on the trail," motif. The innovation enters with the stunning cinematography. The audience is forced to juxtapose images of immense natural beauty with an oppressive sense of impending violence. The effect, while not wholly new, is both unsettling and thrilling. The dialogue of the film eventually requires review. This, again, is a genre standard. After the antagonist is revealed, the audience is challenged to go back and review memory of past interactions so as to determine of the mystery is tidy and coherent. TPG is well crafted and the dialogue is a very good example of the multiple interpretations that can be put upon a single sentence. The only potential flaw here is that the film actually replays certain scenes so that the viewer is able to make more concrete associations. This is a flaw only in that it seems to assume that the attention span of the audience is somewhere around the twenty minute mark. While the firmly established connection is helpful, it also seems to indicate that the filmmakers believe that the audience may be a bit stupid. The character acting and development is clear and uses stock types well. TPG avoids falling into completely bland characterization by providing just enough exposition and detail to make all of the characters seem real. While the protagonist and antagonist clearly confirm to genre standards, the subtle and blatant details given to both allow the filmmaker to blur identities until the proper moment of revelation. Essentially, Jovovich, Olyphant, and Zahn are all capable actors who utilize the scripted materials very well in developing characters that the audience is able to trust.
Overall, this is a well done film that cleverly tells a who-done-it story. The acting is both accessible and believable. The cinematography is stunning. The editing and pacing begins somewhat slow and builds to a fast and furious climax. The story is well told, even if it is not particularly new or groundbreaking. The attempt to tie up all loose ends leads to some cloying exposition but this is only a minor distraction. TPG is a simple story well told by filmmakers and actors who are clearly professional and talented.
On a personal note, I think this is a perfect movie night film. The story holds the audience's attention for the full 100 minutes. The mystery encourages yelling at the screen and guess work. The genre typical style and story make the film accessible to a very large audience. Above all this, the film is just plain fun. 7.8 of 10 stars.
Based on the theatrical version, not the Unrated Director's Cut. Two newlyweds are on their honeymoon near Oahu. Cliff(Zahn) is a screenwriter(who says that "nothing bad ever happens in Hawaii"... someone hasn't watched Lost), and he and Cydney(Jovovich, cute and hot as always) want to have a regular, nuclear family life complete with the kids they're going to have... and they want just one adventure before that. They'll get their wish. On the island group, they meet two other couples(including Nick, portrayed by Olyphant who utterly steals the show as the bad-ass ex-army operative who you're not quite sure if is for real or not), and hear that a pair of killers are on the loose, and may be nearby. But who are they? This is a twist movie, and it is as with most other recent ones... it desperately wants you to be caught off guard(when really, the answer is right in front of us), it throws curveballs(there are those that will feel insulted and call them cheap tricks, and arguments could be made for that stance), and to an extent, it stands and falls on if you like the conclusion(which adopts stylization, tries to out-flashback NCIS(you know, that time where we find out if Tony was actually guilty or not?), and completely changes the nature of this... perhaps too much so). With that said, this doesn't expect you to forget everything that happened before the climax, and it basically does hold up(and I certainly wasn't disappointed). And yes, there are jump-scares that don't pay off. The comic relief tends to be kinda meh, and is at times simply obvious. I would say that the slang and sociolect is perhaps a little in excess(the dialog is usually good, though, and the quirk appropriate in amount). Still... this is one of the better ones, as long as you accept that it is "this kind of flick". It's largely psychologically credible, and is really very realistic. Part of the interesting thing is that every storytelling technique used is discussed by the well-developed, convincing characters. You might say that Twohy(whom I have not watched much else by... The Arrival, and some of the things he's written(like Warlock, and its sequel, The Armageddon)) is waving it in our faces, challenging us to guess. The acting is pretty great for all involved. This has you paying attention throughout, following the events closely. There's hardly any CGI, and things have an impact, they aren't for show. This has genuine tension, is exciting and it properly builds the atmosphere of this secluded paradise(with the bright, beautiful days as well as the dark, deep nights) and makes us care about the people in it, so that when there is danger nearby, we're on the edge of our seats. When it needs to be, this is fast and contains plenty of energy(with hand-held camera and tight editing). There is a lot of disturbing content and a little strong language/sexual description in this. The DVD comes with an OK alternate ending and a dozen trailers. I recommend this to anyone looking for a satisfying, easy-to-get-into 90 minutes of mystery-thriller. 7/10
I didn't get while watching the movie, but after reading some of the
comments here, it makes more sense. While watching the movie, what I
didn't get was how did that girl watching the video camera all of a
sudden know who the killers was, but it has been explained in these
comments. I plan to go back to watch it a second time to see all the
"clues" I may have missed.
But the general plot of the film is a couple, Cliff and Cydney, are on their honeymoon in Hawaii. They begin a 11 mile hike to a beach. Along the way, they run into some girls that tell them about a couple murdered on another island. There are 2 other couples around besides Cliff and Cydney. One couple they are very suspicious of, and the other one, Nick and Gina, they decide aren't so bad so continue the hike with them.
It's sort of slow in the beginning, but gets better once you get to the goat killing.
FINAL VERDICT: Don't read any spoilers before watching. I thought it was entertaining.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Remember when it was cool for a movie to have a twist? Even a bad twist
was a Good Thing. Then M. Night Shyamalan came along and gave us The
Greatest Twist Of All in THE SIXTH SENSE... and screwed it up for
everyone. "Twist" has become a bad word over the last decade, and
people only discuss "twists" of movies to weed out the less
sophisticated who never saw it coming, disparaging them as if they have
no sense of story structure like THEY do. I don't know how this elite
poo-poohing of twists has come about. All I know is - I still get that
boyhood thrill when a filmmaker can put it over on me for a length of
time - and then, after revealing the Big T, still pour on the
storytelling to the end.
Writer-director David Twohy gives us some fine twists in PERFECT GETAWAY, a tension-soaked thriller that ratchets suspense not unlike a junior Hitchcock or Tarantino. (Twohy is probably better known for those Riddick movies (PITCH BLACK, 2000, and CHRONICLES, 2004) which took themselves a tad seriously, but his 1996 THE ARRIVAL was more along this movie's lines - a suspenseful, surprise-filled actioner with Charlie Sheen discovering extraterrestrial aliens infiltrating human society.)
Cliff and Cydney (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) are a dorky, good-looking couple honeymooning in Hawaii, who hear of a murderer couple who have just escaped capture on the island of Oahu, where they just came from. They meet and tag along with dynamite-sexy adventurer couple Nick and Gina (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez). Skulking on the periphery is ripped hippie couple Kale and Cleo (Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton).
Through dialog and misdirection, Twohy strings us along jungle trails, in a well-constructed, simple but effective story, where every couple fake-smiles and secretly suspects each other couple to be the Oahu killers trying to blend in to escape notice, with all of them giving each other good reason to suspect.
It doesn't hurt the production that there are sexy chicks in bikinis at every eye-candy turn.
Timothy Olyphant has The Cool Role, as some kind of covert ex-special forces operative, a self-proclaimed "American Jedi," - whose outlandish anecdotes seem like pandering to Cliff's screen writing proclivities.
Twohy throws in a few minor characters that all sport that suspicious glare to throw us either on or off the track. And some fine split-screening and extroverted gore keeps the action tight.
Can't say any more for fear of ruining the tale - come on, you don't REALLY want to sacrifice pant-tearing enjoyment for stink-nose sophistication, do you?
This film begins gently, but soon becomes an amazing experience. The
twists and turns are unexpected and very clever. The acting is way
above par which make the film even more enjoyable. About half way
through the film I realised the pun in the title 'A perfect Getaway'
The scenery makes the film stand out of the crowed genre as it is not a
typical thriller/horror as it is set mostly in the day time with feisty
characters, not ditsy prom girls!
Towards the climax of the film, they remove the colour of the video for a grey/blue (for effect) but to me it detracts from the film. However, that is the only bad point I can make, which is a great thing.
A Perfect Getaway (2009) Director's Cut 3/5 Director: David Twohy
Stars: Steve Zahn / Timothy Olyphant / Milla Jovovich / Kiele Sanchez A
mousy screenplay writer (Zahn) and his new blushing bride (Jovovich)
are on holiday celebrating their wedding day with a honeymoon to
Hawaii. After an odd incident with some menacing hitchhikers, the
newlyweds meet up wit another couple hiking the same trail. When it is
brought to their attention that killers may be on the island the
lovebirds must figure out if they are being stalked by the killers and
stay one step ahead.
"A Perfect Getaway" is a decent little thriller. Like many of the thrillers it has a bit of a twist and even though it's a clever one but it is still predictable one. The photography is gorgeous but let's face it, is there an ugly shot available in Hawaii? The cast does a fine job: Zahn plays mousy and slightly annoying well, Olyphant plays shady well and the lovely Miss Jovovich is worth seeing in anything. Fans of twisty thrillers should like "A Perfect Getaway".
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