The trailer makes it seem Abandon is all about some
mangy ex-boyfriend lurking in the shadows, stalking Katie
Holmes. Not interesting. Learning that the film’s writer/director
is Stephen Gaghan, who wrote the phenomenal, Oscar-winning
script for Traffic, one expects it to be a thought-provoking
psychological thriller. Very interesting. Actually, it falls
right in between. Smack dab on averagely interesting.
Katie (Holmes) is a stressed-out, Dean’s list, business school
undergrad trying to finish her thesis and land a prestigious
corporate career. Assigned to the missing person case of Katie’s
boyfriend Emery (Hunnam), who’d disappeared two years
prior, Detective Wade Handler (Bratt)—what an unfortunate
name—hounds the gorgeous damsel in distress for clues. Emery
looks like a surfer but is really a wannabe enigmatic creative
genius with an unfounded disdain for everyone but himself.
Katie starts seeing traces of Emery around the overly dark,
creepy campus as he shows up to get her back for no clear
reason. Then she falls for the cop, which really pisses him
off. This all leads up to a decent plot twist, which shall
In this, Gaghan’s directorial debut, his cast raved about
his creative vision and accessibility as a director. Unfortunately,
it doesn’t come across much on screen. In Holmes’ portrayal
of anxiety mixed with over-achievement she often seems way
too clear-headed to be that anxiety-ridden. Like in
her “nerve-wracking” interview scene, she answers all the
questions with such eloquence and ease it’s sickening. We
do get some welcome comic relief from Katie’s friend Samantha
(Deschanel of Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous).
Bratt (whom I’d only seen before in the wretched Miss Congeniality)
does what he can with his rather flat character.
Which brings me to script fault #1—sharing irrelevant details
in a futile attempt to add depth to the characters. Like the
detective’s battle with alcoholism. Or the fact that Katie’s
thesis is about the global wireless revolution. Who cares?
Script fault #2 is in the aforementioned climactic plot twist.
Not to give too much away, but it rips off concepts from A
Beautiful Mind and Psycho, among others I’m sure.
And it’s as unbelievable as it is unexpected.
On the other hand, the cinematography is great. Seriously.
As in Traffic, greenish, bluish (and so on) color tints
on select scenes add an ethereal quality. There are a few
memorable sequences of innovative editing that are a pleasure
to watch. And it the film is nicely edgy and consistently
fast-paced, not allowing the audience much time to sit there
Abandon certainly doesn’t cause a shift of ideas,
but it does entertain and is creative enough to stand out
among the plethora of bad movies being produced this year.
Matinee-worthy for a rainy afternoon, or add it to your ‘to