'A Perfect Getaway'
★★ out of four stars
Rating: R for graphic violence, language including sexual references and some drug use.
In the tropical whodunit "A Perfect Getaway," Steve Zahn and Timothy Olyphant meet on an isolated Hawaiian hiking path. They play a screenwriter and a mysterious ex-commando, and they dislike each other as instinctively as their chatty partners (Milla Jovovich and Kiele Sanchez) swap girl talk.
The backpackers share a three-day trek to a hidden beach while eyeing each other suspiciously. You see, the police are looking for a man and woman who killed a pair of newlyweds back in Honolulu. The film is a well-constructed mystery that teases the audience with repeated references to thriller movie cliches.
The mild-mannered Zahn (solid in a rare dramatic role) and swaggering Olyphant generate a persuasive rivalry. Blinking anxiously behind his glasses, Zahn draws his antagonist out cautiously, feigning interest in writing a film about his adventures.
For all the characters' talk of second-act surprises and red herrings, the observant will have no trouble seeing writer/director David Twohey's breadcrumb trail of hints.
'The End of the Line'
★★★ out of four stars
Unrated by the MPAA; disturbing images.
"Shark Week" notwithstanding, the most efficient predator that the oceans have ever known is the industrial fishing industry, whose nets have depleted some species to near collapse. "The End of the Line" is an aquatic companion to "Silent Spring," a warning that the seas are near a tipping point.
Some marine populations "are no longer renewable because of what we have done to them," cautions London Daily Telegraph correspondent Charles Clover, whose work inspired this fact-packed film.
With commendable clarity, it lays out the data. Newfoundland trawling fleets hunted the Atlantic cod to near-extinction in the early 1990s; the fish have not returned. The global take has been in significant decline for 20 years. Scientific studies meant to guide the European Union's fishing policies are disregarded because of political considerations. The upshot, according to several experts: the end of seafood by 2048, with delicacies such as bluefin tuna extinct much sooner.
The film presents dissenting voices disputing some studies presented here. But even skeptics agree that it's a case of "how bad is it?"
As one marine biologist puts it, "We'll soon be down to a highly simplified ecosystem of mud and worms." It's not too late; the film extols Alaska's conservationist policies, which control commercial fishing through time limits and quotas. Still, a sea change in public understanding is needed.