Year Released: 2009
Directed by: David Twohy
Starring: Steve Zahn, Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphant, Kiele Sanchez
(R, 98 min.)
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not occur in nature." Helen Keller
Part of the fun of this film is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should you. Enjoy the lush jungle, the pristine waters, and the mile high views. Just don’t dwell too much on those two psychotic killers on the loose. It just might ruin a perfect getaway.
That aside, this is a pretty decent thriller, definitely more clever than the trailer promises. A self-aware irony frames each scene,and the tongue in cheek quality is reminiscent of Hitchcock. The actors all seem to be enjoying themselves, too, hamming it up as they get to play against type.
Steve Zhan, hardly recognizable without his shaggy red locks or beard, plays Cliff, a clean-cut screenwriter on his Hawaiian honeymoon with Cydney, played by Milla Jovovich of Resident Evil fame. Jovovich seems to relish this change of pace, certainly more comfortable in her walking shoes and backpack than her skin-tight woman warrior threads. And with just two mere humans out to get her, this role is almost a piece of cake. Of course the killer couple is a bit nasty, digging out their victims’ teeth and snipping off their fingers, as we learn ever so fleetingly.
The first indication of the two dead honeymooners who wash up on a beach near Honolulu is a newspaper headline that enters almost as ominously as the news itself. It is crushed under the tires of Cliff and Cydney”s rental car as they load up on provision for their three day wilderness trail hike on the remote island of Kauai.
They ultimately hear about it from some fellow hikers, but the cell signals are so erratic here that the details sputter out in bits and pieces. Cliff spends entirely too much time climbing to precipitous peaks to try to get a good signal so he can find out more -- in particular a supposed photo of the suspected couple who did the deed.
These tantalizing details become even more important as Cliff and Cydney encounter two other couples, both of whom throw out some distinctly creepy vibes. Kale (Chris Hemsworth) and Cleo (Marley Shelton) are newlyweds, too, their wedding both spontaneous and cheap, as Cleo so aptly demonstrates with the wedding photos taken at a convenience store all decked out for the occasion. Cleo is friendly enough, but Kale has a chip on his shoulder as permanent as the tattoo on his bare chest.
Nick (Timothy Olyphant) happens upon them just in time, a buff past special ops guy who reaches out to grab Cydney just as she’s about to exit to eternity from a slippery cliffside passage. But his grasp on reality is not as firm. He calls himself “an American Jedi” and channels a Jack Nicholson loony gleam as he recalls having half of his brains blown out by an I.E.D. in Iraq, and then wondering if they put them all back behind the new titanium plate in his head.
Nick’s girlfriend Gina (Kiele Sanchez) dishes out her cornpone charm, and while she rolls her eyes at some of his stories, she is proud to proclaim Nick, the survivor of more than one dance with death, “hard to kill,” this a possible reference to the 1990 Steven Seagal action film, one of many such allusions in the film.
Some of the film might be called heavy-handed and a bit obvious, but others might see these same elements as a taunting kind of wit, revealing some subtleties beneath the surface. For instance, we are accosted with signs along the trail that proclaim such things as “Dangerous Curves Ahead,” which we can take metaphorically as well as literally. When Nick tries to sell his life story to his new screenwriter friend, he talks about those false leads he calls “red snappers” until the punctilious Cliff corrects him with “red herrings.” Then he jokes about he proverbial “second act twist.” It is almost as though director and screenwriter David Twohy is chiding us, double dog daring us to find just those elements.
But then again, all this talk about screenwriting per se gives off an element of artificiality, as do the too stereotypic personalities of all four hikers. Perhaps that is clue in itself. We are being taken for a hike, excuse the pun, by some or all of them, but particularly by the esteemed director, who plays with his audience as much as he does the script.
It’s all in grisly good fun, though, with Olyphant’s Nick stealing the show with his almost maniacal glee. And the action filled climax makes up for the teasingly slow suspense that precedes it, even if you can’t quite buy into its credibility.
I’m going to pass on two of the foods featured in A Perfect Getaway. That staple of campers, prepackaged macaroni and cheese, complete in all its artificial ingredient splendor, shall be ignored. If you want a great recipe for this great American staple, try our Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese.
I will also pass over the roasted wild goat, killed with a bow and arrow by Nick and gutted by Gina, once an assistant butcher at the local Piggly Wiggly, who chortles on rapturously as she explains the intricacies of removing its entrails.
Instead, my recipe is a cocktail tribute to the crystal clear blue waters that surround this island paradise, aptly named the Blue Hawaii. It should be a nice alternative to the Aqua Velva Cocktail made famous in Zodiac.
Blue Hawaii Cocktail
Harry Yee was a bartender at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort and Spa when in 1957 he was asked by a representative of Bols to create a new drink using the company's new Blue Curacao liqueur. The Blue Hawaii was born. There are numerous variations of this recipe, many using Creme de Coconut, but this is the authentic recipe.
3/4 oz. Light Rum
3/4 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. Blue Caracao
3 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 oz. Sweet & Sour Mix
Combine all ingredients and mix well. If using ice, mix the ingredients in a blender. Serve in a tall glass. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a cherry. You can even pop in a miniature paper umbrella.
Recipe Source: About.com