425) A Perfect Getaway (2009) Dir: David Twohy Date Released: August 2009 Date Seen: December 2, 2009 Rating: 1.5/5
David Twohy is not a memorable filmmaker, a fact which I think he understands. Since making The Arrival (1996), Pitch Black (2000) and Below (2002), Twohy's career took a fatal nose dive after his The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) was received with open arms and gnashing teeth (I'm rather partial to this quote from Variety's David Rooney, stolen from Metacritic: "May not quite gain entry to the hallowed pantheon of interstellar cheese of a 'Battlefield Earth,' but it's not far behind."). To say that Twohy's career needed a kick-start would be an understatement. Five years later, he returns to directing feature films with A Perfect Getaway, a last ditch effort for attention whose central plot twist effectively sinks the film's aspirations of being a smug Shane Black-esque pastiche of B-movie cliches. Twohy, who also wrote the film's script, tries very hard to make the audience so distracted by his pithy meta-dialogue (ed herring and second act twist being the most egregiously abused) that they'll ignore the fact that his film is never clever enough to build on that rickety foundation long enough create an involving story or memorable characters.
Instead, Twohy jerks the viewer around with a third act revelation worthy of superhack Wes Craven, whose career was made by championing the "bad guys" and painting the "good guys" a dark shade of greyish-black. While we sympathize with hapless tourists Cliff and Cydney (Steve Zahn and Mila Jovovich) as they backpack around Hawaii with Nick and Gina (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez), who they suspect are actually the Neu Honeymoon Killers, it's actually them who are the murderers. This dumb-dumb twist is especially irritating because it ignores the two or three scenes where Cliff is earnestly seeking out clues about the killer's identities and the killing's in general. Twohy tries to minimize the illogic of this mis-step by making Cliff a man that gets off on distancing himself from his real personality, a fact we learn from an extended, info dump-heavy series of flashbacks that includes some of the most wretched film dialogue of the year ("Look, I get it: in some sick way, your need for detachment fits my need for attachment," says Jovovich's Cydney). By that point, he gives the viewer fewer and fewer reasons to care. His pacing gets noticeably desperate, relying on ill-advised stylistic experimentation that makes Ang Lee's well-meaning but wonky editing in Hulk look pared down. The fact that A Perfect Getaway did relatively well signals that Twohy's career is safe for the moment. Hopefully that means the man can now work on something worthy of his earlier career, when he was just a benign craftsman.