The best thing a movie can is to make you want to go back and watch it from the start, especially in a case like A Perfect Getaway. Part of the success of The Sixth Sense was people going to see it again to see what they missed and how they missed it. Not to give away any spoilers to either movie, but we’ve become a culture that can almost spot the cliches and tropes happening now. I also want to mention The Game which seemed to be going down one lane before it jumped the median and had us going in the opposite direction.
The movie was written and directed by David Thowy, a filmmaker who has an impressive resume including writing credits on The Fugitive as well as the surprise sci-fi B-movie horror Pitch Black that helped make Vin Diesel a star. The plot of Getaway revolves around a supposed couple who have just married according to snippets of home video of what we see of a wedding reception and them talking about guests that were at the wedding. They are Cliff and Cydney Anderson (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) in Hawai’i.
They’ve rented a Jeep to get them to a location where they are going to hike to a remote beach. They meet another couple, Kale (Chris Hemsworth in his pre-MCU days) and Cleo (Marley Shelton), hitchhiking. Cliff initially takes Cydney into stopping to give them a ride but when he noticers a “Do Not Revive” tattoo on Kale’s chest, he backtracks but then after a short discussion, tells them he’ll let them ride anyway. But Kale is easily tempered compared to Cleo being too friendly and he angrily tells her to get out of the Jeep.
When Cliff and Cydney get to the hiking point, they cross paths with Nick Bennett (Timothy Olyphant), a former soldier who served combat, and then meet his girlfriend, Gina Stone (Kiele Sanchez). Nick finds out that Cliff is a screenwriter. At a swimming hole, Cliff discover that Kale and Cleo have arrived there too and Kale’s behavior doesn’t sit well with Cliff. Also, Nick and Gina seems a little off to Cliff and Cleo. They also learn that there was a double homicide of tourists with the suspects at large.
As they go deeper into the jungle, tensions arise between Cliff, who seems to be nervous, and Nick who plays with Cliff jokingly as they venture into the wilderness. Also Kale and Cleo have set up a camp not too far away. During a scene that causes more concern for Cliff and Cydney, Nick kills a wild goat for eating that Gina guts much to their surprise.
To say anymore would be to give away a great twist that you probably could’ve guessed. What A Perfect Getaway does is mess with our anticipations of actors in roles. Hemsworth was only 26 when this movie was released and it was only his second movie. So, you’re thinking that an unknown actor must have some significance in a role, right? But wait, Olyphant played the killer in Scream 2 and played shady characters such as a drug dealer in Go. Yet, Zahn has had too many roles playing goofy characters like this in That Thing You Do and Suburbia. Is this a set-up of our expectations?
When the twsit comes, Thowy and the cast do make it a thrilling ride. I look at it as a roller coaster going up the long ramp. You know something is coming, but you actually enjoy the ride up because you realize how high you are and it gives you time to prepare for what’s coming. Then as you go over the first hill, it’s one big rush to the finish. And Thowy shows you little bits and pieces that you might have missed the first time.
Brian DePalma said in the documentary DePalma that directors only show you what they want you to see. And this is a perfect example of that. The video camera footage of the wedding and ceremony comes off as different. And what’s great is that you want to see this movie again because it’s such a good thriller. It’s hard to make a movie where much of the scenes only consist of a handful of characters.
One thing I like about this movie is how people on vacation are so quick to open up to total strangers. Maybe it’s because as one character says, it’s not the mainland. In an exotic place like Hawai’i , you kinda let your guard down. I remember hearing that in Alaska it’s very common for motorists to assist other motorists who are broke down because they could be exposed to the elements. A Perfect Getaway plays a lot with that notion that we’re willing to open up to strangers on vacation without knowing anything.
You don’t go into this expecting anything more than a thriller without some good cinematography. And there are some complaints as one couple is presented as a red herring and you wonder why one character would do something in full view of everyone, but then again, he is supposed to be a pscyhopath. It’s easy to get bogged down in some inconsistencies but the actors all seem to be having fun. They know they’re making a silly thriller that’s about an hour and half long. It’s not going to win any awards but it is a perfect escapism even if you can’t take a trip to the exotic locations.
What do you think? Please comment.