Beautiful people and an awe-inspiring landscape set the stage for this darn good action flick. “A Perfect Getaway” is a lean, 97-minute thriller where characters discuss writing for the movies and second-reel plot twists while kayaking with a secret killer and hiking alongside homicidal maniacs.
There is plenty of good cinema here, including arty camera work, gutsy images and a sequence of bleached black-and-white scenes midway that writer/director David Twohy employs to set the record straight. For in this tale of honeymooners stalked by bloodthirsty murderers, all is not what it appears to be.
Is the silly behavior of young lovers just bliss or a symptom of a deeper psychopathology? Does a naked woman in the middle of a Hawaiian Eden signify original sin or only mean she has nothing to hide? Should you fear a brain-injured Iraqi war vet for his killer instincts or embrace him for sacrificing to protect our way of life?
Twohy comes close to but doesn’t break the inner logic of his tale in order to keep from prematurely revealing the identity of the bad guys. At the point the killers finally become known, Twohy has his audience more than ready for bad things to happen and the film shifts into high gear. When the main characters get bloodied, and believe me they all do, the activity gets furious.
Incisive camera work sets this film apart and makes it a pleasure to watch. When Nick (Steve Zahn) stops his Jeep for Kale (Chris Hemsworth) and Cleo (Marley Shelton), a pair of hitchhikers, the scene is filmed at an angle from within the car that blocks from our view the top half of Kale’s face. We see only his bearded jaw and muscular torso; the words “do not revive” are tattooed in gothic letters across his left chest. Talk about sinister.
Kiele Sanchez plays Gina, fiancee of special forces vet Nick (Timothy Olyphant). Gina is a tough cutie, equally at ease choosing a diamond as field dressing a boar.
Milla Jovovich mesmerizes as newlywed Cydney, a fresh-faced, dark-haired beauty whose dazzling eyes, often shown in close-up, reflect traces of the terror that defines her. Near the end of the film, Jovovich delivers my newest favorite line of movie dialog. Cydney identifies a target for a police SWAT team member who proceeds to pull the trigger. After the high-powered bullet hits its mark, Cydney, with hints of fatalism and exhaustion, confirms the cop got it right by uttering the ultimate dismissal, “Yeah, him.”