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Video Reviews

MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Drama, Mystery/Suspense, Action/Adventure
Cast
Steve Zahn as Cliff; Milla Jovovich as Cydney; Timothy Olyphant as Nick; Kiele Sanchez as Gina; Marley Shelton as Cleo; Chris Hemsworth as Kale
Director
David Twohy (Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick)
Distributor
Rogue Pictures
In Theaters
August 7, 2009
On Video
December 29, 2009
Reviewer
Meredith Whitmore
A Perfect Getaway

A Perfect Getaway

Sometimes honeymoons don't go as planned.

Take the case of Cliff and Cydney. For these adventurous newlyweds celebrating their new life together in Hawaii, nothing spells romance like a hike down a beautiful, secluded and treacherous jungle trail.

The pair's hoped-for romantic reverie is interrupted, however, when they encounter two hitchhikers who're also en route to the trailhead. And the sketchy-looking couple, Kale and Cleo, awkwardly (if predictably) ask if they can bum a ride.

So much for Cliff and Cydney's idyllic moment.

Things get even weirder when the honeymooners encounter another slightly odd couple named Nick and Gina. Though they can't quite put a finger on it, something is just, well, a bit off with Nick and Gina.

So when Cliff and Cydney receive word via his BlackBerry that another newlywed pair was just murdered in Honolulu, suddenly they begin to wonder if they're being stalked, too—perhaps by one of the two couples they've just met.

You see where this is going.

Cell phone reception dwindles. Hatchets fly. And suspicion escalates for everyone trapped on the trail. Red "snappers," to use Nick's malapropism, abound around every bend. Given the trail's isolation, the only real hope for escape is a kayak on the beach 11 miles below.

What once looked like A Perfect Getaway now looks more like ... paradise lost.

Positive Elements

A couple bravely protects each other from a pair of murderers. Gina stops Nick from killing someone in a moment of rage. And if you dig really deeply for some semblance of a moral in this slavish slasher flick, you could say that Getaway delivers a heavy-handed, don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover message.

Spiritual Content

A man says people probably die because of the "wages of sin." Gina says a pastor told her that people "rot in hell" for having sex outside of marriage, yet we learn that the same pastor was caught by his wife having sex with a male prostitute. Gina says his hypocrisy is the reason she doesn't trust anyone who claims to live a virtuous life.

An isolated region on the island of Kauai is called the "most gorgeous dead-end God ever made."

Sexual Content

Low-cut camisoles and string bikini tops with short shorts constitute typical women's wear in this film. Bare chests and longer shorts are the men's most common uniform.

In a skinny-dipping scene, we see the top of Gina's bare backside and the sides of her breasts as she lies facedown on a raft. The camera follows Nick (who's also naked) into the water from behind when he wades out to greet her. Clothes-free Cydney's bare back is also visible when she joins the duo in the water. Other women's backs are shown too.

Couples kiss. A woman offers a man oral sex. Cydney graphically recounts a sexual encounter with an ex-boyfriend, and there's talk of masturbation.

Gina makes a point of telling Cydney that she and Nick aren't married. And Cydney says that she and Cliff (before they got married) were trying to get pregnant.

Violent Content

What's a slasher film without slashing? Answer: nonexistent—which would be an improvement here.

Newspaper headlines blare that a man and woman were "butchered" in Honolulu. Nick and Gina carry all manner of knives and other weapons. Accordingly, they kill a wild goat for dinner (the blood of which flows freely). A pet dog is said to have been hanged with pantyhose and killed by Cydney's ex-boyfriend.

Once such preliminaries are out of the way, the film amps up the blood and gore. Among the most disturbingly violent moments is one in which a man cuts teeth out of a dead man's head. Said "oral surgery" is mostly out of the frame, but we hear the knife's crunching work. Later we see a box of bloody teeth. The same man shoots at least three people in the head.

A woman impales a man's hand with a knife, and he struggles to free himself. Eventually his middle finger gets graphically cut off, but not before he shoots his assailant, nicking her hand with a bullet. An unfortunate victim has fingertips shaved off. Gina is stabbed in the thigh, and the blade goes all the way through her leg. Two women engage in hand-to-hand combat, kicking, stabbing, biting, slugging, choking and bashing each other against rocks. Other perilous scenes repeatedly involve falls (or near falls) from helicopters and cliffs.

Nick details brain injuries he sustained in the first Gulf War and the surgeries he required later.

Crude or Profane Language

Twenty or so f-words and as many s-words. God's name is misused about 10 times and twice paired with "d--n." Jesus' name is abused about 10 times as well. Other unseemly dialogue includes "d--k," "a--," "b--ch," "h---," "p---" and "b--tard."

Drug and Alcohol Content

A couple tokes crystal meth onscreen, and a man is said to have smoked hashish. Several characters smoke cigarettes. Beer is downed at a wedding reception. Champagne, elsewhere. One of the hikers gulps tequila straight from the bottle. A victim's drunkenness makes him easy prey for a killer. (You'd think the live scorpion in the bottle of tequila he drinks would be enough warning.)

Other Negative Elements

Characters lie about, well, everything. One couple's story is a complete fabrication, which serves as a cover for their cruel intentions. Getting married is derisively described as "doing the deed." Kale verbally abuses Cleo. Police are unsympathetically portrayed as killing a suspect based only on circumstantial evidence provided by a hiker. An arrested couple fights against officers as the woman spits at them. The camera watches Nick urinate on the trail (from behind). Cydney follows suit in the trees.

Conclusion

How much can we really know about people? That's the question Cliff poses to Cydney as they warily size up their new "friends" during the hike.

The answer, according to A Perfect Getaway, is very little.

That premise serves as the basis for the film's psychological manipulation of its audience. Things are never as they seem in a story that sports so many red herrings ("snappers") that well before it's over, you don't much care what the real resolution will be. (That's not to say the final twist in the increasingly improbable plot isn't a doozy.)

For me, though, the most upsetting thing about Getaway—apart from its blood-drenched execution, of course—was the masochistic narcissism of the killers. While discussing their life of crime, the woman asks her partner if her collaboration with him has made her crazy. Without blinking an eye, he says it makes her "exciting." As a result, their killings seem especially grim because they're committed for the sheer sport and pleasure of it. Unmitigated brutality and selfishness feed their lust for "adventure" as they vicariously inhabit their victims' lives for a few days afterwards.

And for what purpose? At least as far as this movie is concerned, to shock and "entertain" a public that's increasingly desensitized to violence. In decades past, A Perfect Getaway would have been called scandalous. Outrageous. Maybe even evil. Now it's just another example of the kind of B-grade ground meat Hollywood churns out almost as fast as audiences consume it.

They say you can't judge a book by its cover. But when it comes to predictably unpredictable slasher flicks like this one, that old cliché falls on its face ... and down a cliff.

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