Before going all grandiose with 2004’s overwrought science-fiction epic The Chronicles of Riddick, David Twohy was a reliable genre filmmaker, churning out stuff like the scrappy sci-fi/horror hybrid Pitch Black (which unfortunately spawned Riddick). Twohy’s first film since Riddick, A Perfect Getaway, smartly scales back the ambition, and although it’s a mediocre thriller at best, it has a certain pulp charm and appealing toughness to it.
Zahn and Jovovich play Cliff and Cydney, a pair of newlyweds on their honeymoon in Hawaii, who stumble into that old thriller trope, the Vacation Gone Wrong. On a trek through the wilderness to a secluded beach, they get word that another just-married couple has been murdered on a neighboring island by a male-female duo, just when they suspiciously (conveniently) encounter yet another young couple (Olyphant and Sanchez) on the same trek. Cliff and Cydney immediately suspect their somewhat creepy new friends of being killers on the loose, but of course not everything is what it seems (although what it actually is ends up being pretty obvious).
With a cast this small (a pair of shifty hitchhikers are the only other characters of note), it’s not hard to figure out who the real baddie is, and the inevitable twist isn’t much of a surprise (Twohy then belabors the point with an interminable backstory-filling-in montage that kills any potential shock). But once all the cards are on the table, the suspense ramps up, and the life-and-death stakes feel real enough to make for a few exciting moments. Forced to play things close to the vest, the actors flounder in the movie’s first two-thirds (although Olyphant could make even eating cereal seem menacing). Freed of that secrecy, they really let loose for the climax, which Twohy executes with all the tension and nastiness he can muster.
These are still minor pleasures, and other than the lovely scenery, they’re about all the movie has going for it. Stack a few of those together, though, and Twohy could be right back in the B-movie sweet spot.