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Abandon (2002)
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Review Date: October 18, 2002
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Writer: Stephen Gaghan
Producers: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum
Actors:
Katie Holmes
Benjamin Bratt
Charlie Hunnam
Plot:
A recovering alcoholic cop is given the assignment of finding out what happened to a rich kid who disappeared from college two years earlier. He meets up with his ex-girlfriend, talks her up a while and finds out that she recently started seeing the "missing" kid back around campus. So what's the story? Is the guy really missing or just a jerk playing head-games? McGill University ensues.
Critique:
First things first: this is not a thriller. This is a very slow-moving mystery drama about a missing person...nothing more, nothing less. As usual, the studio marketing machine has somehow managed to turn this film's trailer into a seemingly chase-a-minute movie, but if you go in looking for thrills...you will be sorely disappointed. In fact, if you go in looking for entertainment...you will also be sorely disappointed. Here's a film that managed to bore me by its 20-minute mark, anger me by its 60-minute mark and ultimately surprise me with an interesting twist, but not enough to excuse most of the mess that came before it. Strangely enough, I didn't think I'd ever NOT recommend a film featuring a shot of Katie Holmes in her bra and undies (although you can check out her boobs in THE GIFT, if you like), but I am with this one. What a bore. What an all-out "TV movie of the week" bore with Holmes going through the motions as a "character" named Katie and Benjamin Bratt going through the motions as a "character" with a drinking problem. Yawn. Did I care about either of these two people in the movie? Nope. Did I buy the supposed chemistry or romance between them? Nope. In fact, their romance is now at the top of my list as one of the least believable trysts of the year. And was I, at any point, supposed to think that Bratt's character was a competent detective? All this guy seemed to do was aimlessly walk around asking the wrong questions at the wrong times to the wrong people (and nailing a girl half his age who just happens to be the chief suspect in his investigation...maybe drinking would help this guy!). One thing that I will give the dude is that he was consistent throughout the movie: he was always ten steps behind what was really happening!

And if you were to ask me what was really happening, I wouldn't really have much of an answer for you either. You see, there was this really annoying, pretentious, arrogant asshole who seems to have disappeared and I'm supposed to give a shit because the screenplay tells me to? I wanted this Val Kilmer/Heath Ledger wannabe to die a slow, painful death. I'm glad he disappeared! The man had about as much depth as my 6th grade poetry assignments. So the director decides to "spice up" the lame storyline by tossing in as many flashback sequences as you can manage before taking the audience completely out of a story, and then bring us back into real time, only to have another uninteresting kid disappear (a poor man's Ryan Gosling) and lead to yet another dull investigation. I'm going through the plot points here because that's what bothered me the most about this movie. I just didn't care. I didn't care about the story, I didn't care about Katie Holmes' plight, I didn't care about every single man in the movie who seemingly wanted to bang her (including her shrink), I didn't care about the "name" co-stars, all of whom shared a similar trait of being one-dimensional and I didn't care about what happened to any of them. None of it was aided by the fact that the film had some badly "written" dialogue, too many close-ups, a forgettable soundtrack and an unreal college environment, in which almost no students were ever around, except when there was a party (then again...maybe that is pretty realistic!).

By the way, it's also to note that even though this movie was shot in my hometown of Montreal (at my alma mater, in fact...McGill University...nice campus), and my boy John Fallon (aka Arrow) filmed a day on the set of the movie (he didn't make it into the final cut, but does have his name in the end credits), I can still sit back and genuinely tell you that this movie blows. I was initially gonna rate it even lower, but the finale sorta made me feel sorry for it, especially since I've always been a fan of the twists (although I might be one of the few people who apparently didn't see it coming). Bottom line with this film: no suspense, no thrills, not much of a point and almost nothing memorable or original (except that one cool "party" scene). Rent it if you want to fall asleep to a shot of Katie Holmes' ass (freeze-frame), otherwise, skip this turkey and rent the other "disaster" shot in Montreal: BATTLEFIELD EARTH. If you don't dig it on a cheesy level, you can at least drink and laugh it up. Unlike this movie...which has nothing to laugh about!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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