In 4D symplectic maps complex instability of periodic orbits is possible, which cannot occur in the 2D case. We investigate the transition from stable to complex unstable dynamics of a fixed point under parameter variation. The change in the geometry of regular structures is visualized using 3D phase-space slices and in frequency space using the example of two coupled standard maps. The chaotic dynamics is studied using escape time plots and by computations of the 2D invariant manifolds associated with the complex unstable fixed point. Based on a normal-form description, we investigate the underlying transport mechanism by visualizing the escape paths and the long-time confinement in the surrounding of the complex unstable fixed point. We find that the slow escape is governed by the transport along the unstable manifold while going across the approximately invariant planes defined by the corresponding normal form.