More of an exercise in narrative gamesmanship than an actual thriller, A Perfect Getaway pretty much douses its first half’s methodical build-up of suspense with its second half’s bucket of contrivance. That’s not to say it isn’t a lot of fun — it is, with a sly sense of humor and sharp dialogue that makes clever, reflexive reference to the characters’ presence in a comic whodunit. (“He’s really hard to kill,” declares one, doting lovingly on her boyfriend, who may or may not be half of a couples serial-killing team.)
(Note: This review, originally written last year for the White Plains Times, is being blogged by special request.)
This sci-fi potboiler about a struggle between humans and a subculture of diseased-but-genetically-enhanced people known as “hemophages” doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what it is — a convenient way for unlikely action hero Milla Jovovich to secure some health insurance in the gap between Resident Evil movies. Green-screen technology makes glossy, violent fantasies like this possible on a (relatively) low budget, but it also strips the picture of the kind of imperfections that make some low-budget science-fiction movies so entertaining. There’s no evidence of a human fingerprint on any of the impossibly clean white surfaces of the rooms through which Jovovich battles her way, dispatching armies of identical hit men with a flick of a sword or a hail of bullets, and there’s none of the choreographed pizzazz or visual flair that make Asian martial-arts epics so compelling. The film’s appeal is limited entirely to the star presence of Jovovich herself, sporting an impossibly toned body, some cool outfits and a determined glare. If she doesn’t get your motor running, forget it — everything else on the screen may as well have been designed by the guys at Apple Computer. It’s available in PG-13 and extended “unrated” versions. D
A sinister conglomerate is secretly conducting experiments in a huge laboratory called The Hive, located beneath Racoon City. An artificially intelligent supercomputer may or may not have gone berzerk. An elite task force investigating the scene is getting sliced and diced by laser beams in an elaborate booby trap. And zombie dogs are on the loose. This must be Resident Evil.
I hate to suggest that viewers should check their brains at the door to enjoy a movie, but I’m afraid that sentiment serves both as a warning and a recommendation where The Fifth Element is concerned.