2009 | Director and Writer: David Twohy (“The Arrival,” writer on “Waterworld,” “The Fugitive”)
The Big Twist, the shocking revelation that turns the plot on its head, becomes, for better or worse, the defining moment many horror or thriller films. Whether that twist is essential to the story itself or merely to the telling of that story, however, is what truly seems to matter in movies like “The Crying Game” or “The Sixth Sense.” David Twohy’s satisfying “A Perfect Getaway” takes the storytelling approach—usually the lesser of the twist’s uses—but turns that twist into the story itself, making “Getaway” the rare thriller in which every shot, every word in every line of dialogue, references itself for the betterment of the viewing experience.
“Getaway” stars Steve Zahn (“Saving Silverman”) and Milla Jovavich (“The Fifth Element”) as screenwriter Cliff and his bride Cydney, honeymooners vacationing on Kauai in the Kalalau Valley. When they learn from other hikers that another honeymooning couple were recently murdered on Oahu, they begin to nervously suspect everyone around them, from a grizzled, creepy hitchhiking couple played by Chris Hemsworth (“Star Trek”) and Marley Shelton (“Bubble Boy”) to the much friendlier, equally-creepy couple Nick, an ex-Special Forces op with peculiar interest in Cliff’s profession (played by standout Timothy Olyphant, “The Girl Next Door”), and his Southern girlfriend Gina (Kiele Sanchez, “Lost”).
Director and writer Twohy (“Pitch Black,” “The Chronicles of Riddick”) makes all the right moves here, stretching the opening scenes’ tension—set amidst gorgeous locales—to palpable lengths before dropping the hammer in an explosive, visually-striking third act. It’s all done in service to the twist, of course, with every red herring spelled out for the viewer, and every glowering, askew glance meant to lead the eye to a dead end. The performances in “Getaway” are particularly serviceable, and especially those from Zahn and Olyphant as vastly different men whose never-ending discussion of screenwriting techniques acts as both a visible blueprint and a bold slight-of-hand trick.
Most twists are rightly decried as fluff meant to disguise a film’s pointlessness, and indeed, “Getaway” says little about Health Care, Darfur, or the healing Power of Love; however, it’s a heck of an examination of man’s sick propensity for deception, and a more-than-entertaining exercise in a movie’s power to shock, awe, and manipulate its audience.
Rating: Four of Five Stars