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MOVIE REVIEW

'A Perfect Getaway'

It twists. It thrills. Just pay no mind to the details.

August 07, 2009|Glenn Whipp

The marketing push behind David Twohy's twisty thriller, "A Perfect Getaway," hasn't exactly been hiding the existence of the movie's big third-act twist. TV spots trumpet a "shocking ending that will blow you away!" and the movie itself frequently references the around-the-corner presence of red herrings or, as one character calls them, "red snappers."

So, as you're watching honeymooners Cydney (Milla Jovovich) and Cliff (Steve Zahn) deal with the dawning knowledge that their idyllic island vacation isn't going to be so perfect after all, you can't help but shuffle through the possible outcomes, which, truth be told, are pretty limited. To Twohy's credit, he does a decent job of keeping you guessing -- and interested -- until almost the very end.

The movie opens with footage from a wedding video and lovey-dovey scenes of Cydney and Cliff's Hawaiian bliss. "They wanted to start their lives with some kind of adventure," we're told, and they pick a doozy -- backpacking the Kalalau Trail, a long, strenuous hike around the coast of Kauai.

Pansy screenwriter Cliff, sporting standard-issue Steven Soderbergh glasses, finds his Spidey sense tingling after learning that a newlywed couple has been butchered in Honolulu. Suddenly, the idea of a remote, three-day hike doesn't sound so appealing, particularly after an encounter with a pair of belligerent hitchhikers (Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton) put off by Cliff's reluctance to give them a ride.

But Cliff and Cydney march ahead, quickly befriending another couple, Nick (wild-eyed Timothy Olyphant) and Gina (Kiele Sanchez). Nick shows off his skills with sharp weapons, spins tales of his special-ops days in Iraq ("He's really hard to kill," Gina gushes) and offers screenwriting tips to Cliff.

Twohy ("Pitch Black") the writer takes his time establishing the characters (or should we say suspects?) and dishing out some dark humor. As a director, he does a decent enough job unleashing hell when the story requires, though some of his stylistic flourishes prove a bit much. (Prudence requires avoiding specifics here.)

And, yes, the Big Reveal holds up after inspection, provided you're willing to overlook the choices made by Hawaii's finest and the tangible benefits of a summer spent working at a Piggly Wiggly. Twohy correctly banks on the fact that his audience will be too busy sifting through those aforementioned "red snappers" to care about the details.

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'A Perfect Getaway'

MPAA rating: R for graphic violence, language and drug use

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Playing: In general release

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