A Perfect Getaway might be far from perfect, but itâ€™s good enough to be considered one of this summerâ€™s biggest out-of-left-field surprises. A twisty thriller that will keep most audience members alternately on their toes and on the edge of their seats, this feels like a classic case of a B movie showing its more heavily hyped A-list competition how to get the job done with little fuss or fanfare.
A Perfect Getaway is set in Hawaii, but forget Sarah Marshall: Despite some humor spicing up the picture at regular intervals, this mostly shows how Paradise on Earth can quickly morph into a living hell, as news spreads around the islands about how a newlywed couple was gruesomely murdered by another couple who got away. Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich), newlyweds themselves, are determined not to let this disturbing information disrupt their honeymoon, which consists of hoofing it through remote Hawaiian terrain. Largely to steer clear of a menacing couple (Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton) giving off that Natural Born Killers vibe, they hook up with another pair (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez) whose own peculiarities (outlandish Iraq War tales, a glee in skinning and gutting wild animals) quickly unnerve them. Is it possible that Cliff and Cydneyâ€™s new friends are the actual killers?
A key scene about two-thirds through the movie is overplayed and in effect makes it easier to guess the major plot pirouette. Yet even those who pick up on the forthcoming twist should enjoy this picture for its other merits, including the shifting dynamics between the characters, some memorable fight sequences, and the manner in which writer-director David Twohy (whose finer moments include co-scripting The Fugitive and serving as writer-director on Pitch Black) plays with audience expectations. A Perfect Getaway will strike some as being too clever for its own good, but others (like me) will view it as an escape from the late-summer doldrums.