Tagline: 6 strangers. 2 killers. No getting away.
A young couple celebrating their honeymoon go backpacking on a remote beach in Hawaii. They meet two other couples after hearing about the horrifying murder of another newlywed couple on the islands. Everyone begins to look like a threat and nobody knows whom to trust.
Cliff and Cydney (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) are an adventurous young couple celebrating their honeymoon by backpacking to one of the most beautiful, and remote, beaches in Hawaii. Hiking the wild, secluded trails, they believe they’ve found paradise. But when the pair comes across a group of frightened hikers discussing the horrifying murder of another newlywed couple on the islands, they begin to question whether they should turn back.
Unsure whether to stay or flee, Cliff and Cydney join up with two other couples, and things begin to go terrifyingly wrong. Far from civilization or rescue, everyone begins to look like a threat and nobody knows whom to trust. Paradise becomes hell on earth as a brutal battle for survival begins.
A Perfect Getaway is a 2009 American thriller adventure film, written and directed by David Twohy, that stars Timothy Olyphant, Milla Jovovich, Kiele Sanchez, and Steve Zahn. The film was originally shot in Puerto Rico and Hawaii and was released on August 7, 2009, in the United States and on August 12 in the United Kingdom. The film was a modest financial success.
About the Film
From his screenplays for such blockbusters as The Fugitive and G.I. Jane to his directorial efforts including the sci-fi classics Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, filmmaker David Twohy has long enjoyed playing with established genres as he designs his signature stories. For A Perfect Getaway, it was an exotic location that drove both his characters into action and plot into madness. While on vacation on the lush island of Kauai, Hawaii, Twohy was inspired to plot his latest project, one that happily breaks the conventional rules of three-act linear storytelling. As he hiked the switchbacks of Kauai’s remote trails, Twohy began imagining an intricate thriller of switchback deceptions about two serial killers who track and eliminate their victims.
The writer/director begins his story with a raucous wedding reception at the W Hotel in Westwood, Los Angeles. Well-wishers at a party for Cliff and Cydney pass around a video camera that records the crowd’s enthusiasm for the blissful newlyweds beginning their life together. The camcorder tracks Cliff and Cydney’s departure for Hanalei and their honeymoon on the legendary hiking trails of Kauai.
A sightseeing chopper banks to reveal Waimea Canyon, Wai’ale’ale Crater and waterfalls that plunge 3,000 feet. Pods of whales breach the waters on the Na Pali Coast and Kalalau Beach, a golden crescent of sand, is cordoned off from civilization by steep green mountains that dip into the Pacific. There are only two ways in and out of this paradise-by kayak or by the Kalalau Trail, an 11-mile trek along the island’s north shore. The trail spans from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Valley and requires up to two days to complete. The island promises an adventurous Cydney and Cliff check out their surroundings. beginning to Cydney and Cliff ‘s new life together…until they learn that serial killers are on the loose.
Twohy had no interest in creating a paint-by-numbers thriller and refused pressure from other would-be financiers to make the story more conventional. “I could see the temptation,” he says. “The story does set up fairly conventionally, like a straight-ahead thriller. But then halfway through, it kind of explodes in your face as I turn over all the cards, revealing who the killers are. In doing so, that messes with the audience’s sympathies and expectations. The second half of the movie then goes dark and dire and fairly extreme.”
His wide-eyed city dwellers become fascinated with two new friends they meet on the trail. Nick and Gina are a rugged pair who hike and hunt together, and Twohy’s newlyweds find them exhilarating. In addition to the tough-but-charming couple, Cliff and Cydney come across two mysterious hitchhikers named Kale and Cleo. Unfortunately, they can’t decide whether their new acquaintances are dangerous or harmless.
When news spreads among the group that there has been a series of tourist murders on Oahu-and law enforcement believes the psychopaths have come to their tropical paradise of Kauai-the travelers band together for safety in numbers. The problem is that they begin to suspect the killer is among them.
The director explains the rationale and motivations of his characters: “When we’re on vacation, we often do things we otherwise wouldn’t. We talk to people in different ways. We tell more about ourselves than maybe we should. That’s one of the key things that allows the serial killers in our midst to keep learning and to keep changing identities.”
While the script’s arrhythmic structure was initially a roadblock to setting up financing, Twohy remained passionately committed to his story in which the characters’ motives dictate the plot. He found his ideal production partners in Ryan Kavanaugh and Tucker Tooley of Relativity Media.
Producer Robbie Brenner, who received the spec story from Twohy’s agent, was quickly interested in developing the story with Kavanaugh and Tooley for Relativity. “David’s a fantastic writer,” commends Brenner. “He writes incredible characters that are authentic, and this was something very different from anything he had done before. Tucker and I shared the same passion for getting this movie made.”
To manage a distant location shoot where unpredictable weather and rough terrain would undoubtedly be factors, the four filmmakers turned to producer Mark Canton to complete the core team. As he had previously worked with Twohy on The Fugitive, Canton understood the director’s process. “David had written the script for Kauai, and because I’ve been there, I could visualize what he wanted to do,” explains Canton. “While the tax incentives drove the decision to shoot in Puerto Rico, we produced CG shots in Hawaii so it would feel like we’re there.”
Production greenlit, it was time to find the group of murderers and innocents who would play a very dangerous game with one another in Hawaii. For the three couples that form the heart of A Perfect Getaway, Twohy and the producers looked to cast a seasoned group of action and suspense film veterans, as well as newcomers to the genre. They found their Cliff & Cydney, Nick & Gina and Kale & Cleo after an extensive search.
When considering the role of the rugged Iraq war veteran Nick, the team asked actor Timothy Olyphant to come aboard. From Hitman to Live Free or Die Hard, Olyphant has a number of thrillers on his resume and jumped into the role. It didn’t hurt that the native Hawaiian was very familiar with the land about which Twohy had written.
Olyphant enjoyed the complex narrative created for his role; he wasn’t sure whether Nick was going to be a victim or the killer. “Every character has information you assume means one thing and then, when given more information, you realize it means something completely different,” the actor offers. “This movie really challenges the audience at all times.”
Survivalist Nick jumps at the opportunity to brag to aspiring screenwriter Cliff about his exploits in the military as a self-proclaimed “American Jedi.” “He is this gregarious, special-ops guy who has all kinds of stories to tell,” says Twohy. “Nick’s like a drive-by shooter with his stories. At first you believe this guy, but then you aren’t so sure. You want to start questioning the guy about the legitimacy of his stories, but by then he’s on to the next one. I told Tim: `Do it fast, almost rat-a-tat-tat, with no breath in between…so everybody is left playing catch-up to your monologue.’”
To play opposite Nick, the production team had to next fill the role of the shy writer Cliff; like his coun- terpart, he has to fight for his life if he hopes to escape the island alive. Producer Brenner had previously worked with Steve Zahn on a Western, so she and Twohy flew to Kentucky to discuss the part with the actor on his latest film set. The unassuming Cliff was a welcome departure for Zahn. “Steve’s always seen as the funny guy,” says Brenner, “so the straightman role of Cliff gave him an opportunity to do something different.”
Zahn’s background made him a disarming choice for Cliff, concurs Twohy. Indeed, he felt the actor was “scope-locked” on the part as he prepared to film. “His script was tabulated and indexed; he had everything worked out and was ready to go,” recalls the director. “He was usually the first one on set, happy to do just about anything I wanted with very little input required.”
Zahn appreciated that A Perfect Getaway was nonlinear and unpredictable. He describes his reaction upon reading the screenplay: “You have all these characters that are vulnerable and endearing, and you’re interested in them. Then someone kills somebody, and it might be the one you like.” The actor also appreciated that his character struggles with the unforgiving nature of the Hawaiian trails…no matter how much gear he has piled into his pack. Acknowledges Zahn: “Cliff is a little out of his element.”
Continue Reading and View the Theatrical Trailer
A Perfect Getaway (2009)
Directed by: David Twohy
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Milla Jovovich, Steve Zahn, Marley Shelton, Kiele Sanchez, Chris Hemsworth, Katie Chonacas, Dale Dickey, Wendy Braun, Angela Sun, Leandra Gillis
Screenplay by: David Twohy
Production Design by: Joseph C. Nemec
Cinematography by: Mark Plummer
Film Editing by: Tracy Adams
Costume Design by: Laura Goldsmith
Set Decoration by: Lisa Alkofer
Art Direction by: Zina Torres
Music by: Boris Elkis
MPAA Rating: R for graphic violence, language including sexual references and drug use.
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: August 14, 2009