Review: Abandon

by Jake Sproul

Rating: (out of )

Abandon has been a very difficult film to pinpoint. One minute I thought I had the film pegged as a corny teen film, that will disappear as quickly into oblivion as another recent teen thriller, Swimfan. However, Abandon did surprise me at time by being smart, and more similar to What Lies Beneath. After letting this movie simmer on the backburner for several days, I realized that while, yes Abandon could have its moments, it is its ultimate inconsistency that is the memorable factor, and thus Abandon shall in my book be remembered as a failure.

Katie Burke (Katie Holmes, Dawson’s Creek) is perfect. She is at the top of her class at a prestigious university, and recently won a job at a great and highly sought after corporation, and let us not forget her beauty. However, he life is traumatized due to the disappearance of her eccentric boyfriend, Embry. Katie though has been able to put this behind her, and she is ready to move on with her life until Wade Handler, a detective, is assigned the case of Embry. Instead of simply shutting the case down as a missing person, Wade decides to investigate. And of course, as soon as Wade takes the case, Katie sees Embry popping up all over the place.

Unlike its cousin, Swimfan, Abandon did have a decent plot to work with. This thriller was intriguing, but like its cousin Swimfan, Abandon falls way short in everything it set out to accomplish.

Abandon is utterly uninvolving. Abandon circles around the point plots without ever getting anywhere. For a thriller, Abandon is surprisingly talky, and for a movie with extensive dialogue, there is very little character development. These characters simply interact and never get anywhere. I fopund this extremly obvious in the case of Wade Butler. He is supposed to be doing an investigation, but he spends all his time courting Katie (who is much to young for him, a sign of poor casting), and kicking his alcoholism (which, by the way, has no real point in the movie, its just there.)

Without revealing too much, I will say that there is a twist ending, as is expected. However, it seems that for the first 90 minutes, all we have been doing is waiting for this surprise ending. In a movie like The Sixth Sense, we are lead down an alternate “reality” if you will, until at the end, our world is turned upside down at the revelation of what is “true.” In Abandon, if seems as if we are just standing at the cross roads for 90 minutes, waiting for this twist at the finale.

To be frank, Abandon is a pretty boring movie. There are a few moments of suspense, but most of the time, we just wait, and observe Katie literally write her thesis. (Perhaps my time could have been better spent doing homework myself?) The final 10 minutes of the movie, do reveal the true plot, and it is quite smart. However, by the time those final 10 minutes roll around, half the audience is asleep from watching Katie go about her life. And worst of all, while the finale does make all the necessary connections, it is not very suspenseful and anti-climactic.

As I have touched on throughout this review, at times, Abandon does rise above other ‘b’ thrillers. Abandon’s sharp triangle of mystery between Katie, Wade, and Embry is the boost that Abandon possessed. But it never does anything to really capitalize on its advantage.

I have a major gripe with the camera work in Abandon. It is very closed in and claustrophobic. I found it to be very uninviting, and perhaps another reason why I didn’t take a real interest in this movie. Abandon would have been more adequately presented had it been on a larger scale and shot further back from the characters.

Thrillers require a hyped-up music score to create tension, and there is nothing of the sort in Abandon. Perhaps this is due to the lack of suspense period, but don’t go to see Abandon hoping to be on the edge of your seat. This statement is supported by the movie’s own score.

Acting is movies like this are never typically good, and this proves true here. Katie Holmes is only sufficient as the vulnerable Katie Burke. Benjamin Bratt stars as the detective, and he is terribly miscast. Wow, is he EVER miscast. He just doesn’t fit into this movie one bit. On the other hand, Charlie Hunnam who plays Embry does a very good job playing eccentric and border line psycho.

Abandon is a disappointing movie that really shouldn’t be seen by anyone, expect those who are specific fans of Katie Holmes and Benjamin Bratt. The movie fails. It fails in everywhere. Good intensions only go so far. In the case of Abandon, these intensions, and a decent ending plot twist carry Abandon to the threshold of two stars, but no further.

© 2002 Jake Sproul

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