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4 reviews, 10 user ratings

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Perfect Getaway, A
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by Peter Sobczynski

"I'd Hike A Mile For A Milla"
5 stars

By now, most of you who have been reading my reviews with any regularity has no doubt concluded that I have a bit of a soft spot when it comes to Milla Jovovich, the Ukrainian-born model-turned-actress best known to most audiences for playing a variety of ass-kicking super-babes in such films as “The Fifth Element,” “Ultraviolet” and the “Resident Evil” series. I have no problem in copping to this--most film fans have at least one favorite performer who can do virtually no wrong in their eyes and if one is going to absurdly fetishize a movie star, it might as well be one who is insanely gorgeous, has a unique personality, is fiercely convincing in the action-based roles that she often finds herself cast in and, as those who saw her in the likes of “The Claim” and “No Good Deed” can attest, is also perfectly capable of turning in fine dramatic performances as well. However, I do take my role as a film critic relatively seriously and I like to think that when I do praise a film that she is in, I am able to back up that praise as I would with any other movie. At the same time, there are probably many of you who look upon such reviews and automatically dismiss them on the assumption that I am too far in the bag to offer any real criticism. For example, I could tell you right now that her latest film, “A Perfect Getaway,” is a hugely entertaining pulp thriller that delivers the goods in a stylish and hugely effective manner that beats most other recent films of its ilk like a gong and some would ignore those words by indicating that I am only saying them because the film features Jovovich running around for 90-odd minutes (less a brief skinny-dipping interlude, of course). That may be true but even if she hadn’t have been in the movie and her character was played by the likes of Megan Fox or Mena Suvari, I still would have liked it a lot because it is a solidly made thriller that comes at a time when such things are at a premium. (It also one filled with a number of surprises--I plan on treading as lightly as possible regarding them but beware of possible Spoilers ahead.)

Jovovich and Steve Zahn star as Cydney and Cliff, a newlywed couple who have chosen to spend their honeymoon hiking through a remote area of one of the Hawaiian Islands. On the way to the trail that they are going to be hiking on, they stop for a pair of sinister-looking hitchhikers--Cleo and Kale (Marley Shelton and Chris Hemsworth)--but tensions between them quickly flare up and they wind up not giving them a ride after all. While beginning their hike, Cydney and Cliff make the acquaintance of Nick (Timothy Olyphant), a strange guy packing a huge knife, plenty of survival skills and any number of too-good-to-be-true tales about his adventures that he believes that screenwriter Cliff can turn into a blockbuster film. While making their way along the trail, they run into a bunch of fellow hikers who have just learned that a honeymooning couple was found brutally murdered in Oahu and that the suspects--a man and a woman--are now believed to be somewhere on their island. Things get tense for Cydney and Cliff when they decide to continue on with Nick and discover that he is not alone but has his girlfriend, Gina (Kiele Sanchez) in tow. Things get even tenser when it turns out that Cleo and Kale have caught up with them and are lurking about the scene. Nevertheless, Cydney and Cliff decide to press on with Nick and Gina but as they progress further along the trail, they begin to suspect that they may indeed be in over their heads, especially when they discover Nick’s facility for hunting and killing a goat and Gina’s facility for expertly gutting it without a moment’s hesitation.

“A Perfect Getaway” is basically a B-movie thriller through and through and in the hands of lesser people, it might have just turned out to be the kind of dull programmer that seems to exist only to pop up on obscure cable channels in the dead of night in order to fill time. Luckily, the film was written and directed by David Twohy, whose previous films (including “The Arrival,” “Pitch Black” and “Below”) have all demonstrated what can happen when unabashedly pulpy material is put in the hands of talented enough to make something interesting out of it instead of merely following the usual clichés. In the case of “A Perfect Getaway,” he has taking a premise that might have otherwise fueled a Lifetime Original Movie and juiced it up in a number of clever ways. Throughout the film, for example, he has screenwriter Cliff and unabashed movie fan Nick discussing various screenplay conventions in ways that offer viewers a not-so-subtle condemnation of the lazy hackwork that they too often settle for in Hollywood thrillers. This is all pretty funny, though those without a working knowledge of screenplay construction may find it a bit irritating after a while, but what makes it work is that while Twohy is distracting us with all that stuff, he is quietly setting up the real story and any number of payoff moments right under our noses up until the point where he reveals all in an exceptionally audacious manner. This is neat because once you start thinking back on what has transpired after the end credits begin to roll, you realize that this is one of the rare contemporary thrillers that plays pretty fair and that nearly everything seen in the set-up can logically be accounted for. What makes it even neater is that even if you do manage to catch on to the twist early on in the proceedings, it still unfolds in such a way that is compulsively watchable. And for viewers who may complain that the first hour involves little more than people talking and hiking, be assured that once the action kicks in during the last third, Twohy proves to be equally adept in that area as well with a bloody and brutal final act that is equal parts breathlessly exciting and darkly funny.

Although this is not the kind of film in which anyone goes into with expectations of acting awards and such, the roles here are a bit trickier than the kind normally found in this particular genre. Zahn, of course, has been playing hyper-articulate nerds for years and on that level alone, he is perfectly cast here. At the same time, however, he is a good enough actor to subtly suggest that there are other things going on with him that are just waiting to emerge at the right moment. As Nick, Timothy Olyphant does a hugely effective job of veering between ingratiating and menacing--often within the same scene--and his out-of-nowhere impression of Nic Cage is a hoot. I admit to not being especially familiar with Kiele Sanchez (I gather that she briefly appeared on “Lost” as a character so thoroughly reviled by fans of the show that she was quickly dispatched) but she definitely makes an impression here--she is funny, charismatic and blessed with a great smile and you find yourself rooting for her even when she has her hand up an eviscerated goat looking for the gut bag. As for Jovovich, it is nice to see her in a more restrained role as an Everywoman type instead of portraying yet another genetically enhanced action babe--that said, when her character is forced to fight for her life in the final act, she is once again marvelously convincing as someone who will do anything to survive.

After a summer of hard-sell nonsense dedicated to bludgeoning audiences with mindless screenplays and noisy explosions, the existence of a film like “A Perfect Getaway” comes as some kind of blessed relief. It isn’t trying to be the biggest or the most spectacular film of the summer or even of the weekend. Instead, it is a genuinely effective thriller with a relatively ingenious plot that is presented in a lean and straightforward manner that quietly ratchets up the tension until it goes cheerfully nuts in the last third. As an added bonus, there are also several bits of pure weirdness thrown in as well that are equally memorable. There is the bit when Olyphant tells a long and strange story about a certain dictator and his odd fascination with the comic book character Sub-Mariner. There is the long scene in which Milla Jovovich gets to deliver what may be the creepiest Vagina Monologue ever seen. There is the bit in which an offhand “Cool Hand Luke” reference provides a key piece to the puzzle. And, of course, there is the incontrovertible evidence suggested here that if you are on your honeymoon in Hawaii with Milla Jovovich and the only thing that you can think of doing is hiking, you must be crazy.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18067&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/07/09 00:00:00
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User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell not bad but nothing special 3 stars
8/26/12 David Pollastrini I didn't see that twist coming! Oh, and Milla looks very hot! 5 stars
9/27/11 Monday Morning Good fun, twisty ending 4 stars
5/25/11 Glenn Laurence Hardy Junior why was this rated R? it's barely even a horror movie, and there's like one drop of blood. 2 stars
7/14/10 mr.mike Slow build-up leads to surprising payoff. 4 stars
9/21/09 aliceinwonderland Good thriller 4 stars
9/11/09 Betty C I loved it, but they were smoking the meth Completely WRONG 4 stars
8/26/09 starmage2 I wasn't surprise by who the killers were. 3 stars
8/26/09 R. G. Ranade Fun thriller with goofy but effective twist. 3 stars
8/09/09 R.W. Welch C+ thriller is manipulative but not a bad ride. 3 stars
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  07-Aug-2009 (R)
  DVD: 29-Dec-2009



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