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Abandon (PG-13)
Paramount Pictures
Official Site
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Producers: Lynda Obst, Edward Zwick, Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber
Written by: Stephen Gaghan
Cast: Katie Holmes, Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Hunnam, Zooey Deschanel, Gabrielle Union

Rating: out of 5

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 remain undisclosed.

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 bored.

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 rent’ list.

Michelle Fajkus


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