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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.56%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Average: 25%
Pretty Bad: 19.44%
Total Crap38.89%

3 reviews, 18 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Don't Give It A-wa.....Oh, Who Cares?"
3 stars

Abandon is a movie that must have put its studio, Paramount, into such a dither that it had no choice but to embark on an ad campaign that reveals numerous things we should not be aware of upon walking in. As I thought of my own approach to trucking out how to sell this product to the consumer, I found myself as stuck as the artists who continue to use knives and giant cuts to separate giant faces on thriller posters. What exactly is Abandon? It’s a psychological drama, but not really. It’s a stalker suspenser, but not really. It has an unusually well-directed story, but not really. It’s hard to even discuss the plot of the film without divulging what makes it sorta rise above (but not really) the usual, well, Paramount thriller.

Even the title of the film gives away an aspect of the story that is best kept as a seemingly insignificant sidenote. Katie Burke (Katie Holmes) is facing the everyday pressure of an impending graduating college student; a thesis paper to finish, job interviews to go on and the angst that her place in the business world may not really amount to more than just a cog in the wheel. She also faces the oh-so-poor-me struggle of catching the eyes of men no matter where she goes, despite being as frigid as a Whirlpool icebox. (Imagine Cameron Diaz’s Mary without a personality.) Throw on top of that the anguish she feels, despite her love, of a boyfriend who tormented and left her and a father who abandoned her and her mother at a young age.

Paralleling her psychological distress is that of Detective Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt), just getting back on duty after a drinking problem that resulted in some blood and brown hair on his car bumper. (I know of cops thrown off the force just for drinking the night before.) On both the wagon and the horse, Wade’s first assignment is the investigation into the disappearance of Embry Langan ("Undeclared's" Charlie Hunnam), a priviliged and ambitious student who hasn’t been heard of in two years. Katie was his girlfriend.

The way this setup is played sets the stage for both a mystery and a character study between two people just wanting to do this world some good. But we know from the ads that Embry may not be all that missing. Katie sees him skulking around campus and eventually has encounters with the prodigal prodigy that continually end with Katie telling Wade, “I know I should have told you sooner.” Is she a suspect? Is anyone a suspect? Is there even anything to suspect? And what’s really going on with Katie’s friend, Harrison (Gabriel Mann), who wants to be more than friends and “Mousy Julie” (Melanie Lynskey) whose shy creepiness constantly tests Katie’s patience in the library? And considering how rich Embry was, exactly how dumb are the police in that area that they didn’t bother to look…oh, but I wouldn’t want to give away too much.

What’s really going on is what Abandon wants to be avoided in reviews like this. I wrote down my own theory during the screening and turned out to be dead right. Any twists not revealed by the trailers can be pretty easily filled in by anyone who has seen a mystery in the last five years. And I mean any of them. Stephen Gaghan (Oscar-winning screenwriter of Traffic) directs with a sure hand though, misdirecting us so often into believing that we’re not watching a mystery at all. His character parallels become so overboard though in the final act that we end up flashforwarding then back to a flashback to fill in the pieces to the flashforward which then flashforward some more, then back into a flashback which jumps to an even further forward and then back to the present (or is it the past?)

Abandon is such a schizophrenic picture (or is that giving away too much?) that you’ll either appreciate what Gaghan was trying to do or scoff at how silly its earnestness is. The screenplay has the kind of structure and layers that may look impressive on the paper of a debut scriber, but on screen displays the standard complexions we’ve seen time and time again in recent years no matter how glossed over the editing is. When it’s all over, the questions regarding the film’s turns will be few and far between, but how to describe it to others could take hours of thought or mere seconds into avoiding giving anything away. I didn’t hate Abandon and I’m certainly not recommending it either. The only question I thought of upon leaving it behind was wondering how many boyfriends there were in-between Embry and…oh, but I don’t want to give away too much. Not really.

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originally posted: 10/18/02 10:40:15
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User Comments

1/22/16 David H. Silly knockoff of suspense thrillers 2 stars
10/31/08 ndjndj I need only news about health and bank today!, 4 stars
1/21/05 who matters?! its a great film with great actors/actresses!! really cool idea... 4 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams I literally fell asleep. I NEVER do that in a movie. 1 stars
4/17/04 Michael Greenwaldt A hypnotic, trippy, very well-made, and underrated film! Not for the mainstream audience! 4 stars
4/01/04 Charles Tatum Sillier and sillier as it goes, but Bratt is great 3 stars
3/04/04 Destroyo EL CRAPO!!!! 1 stars
1/24/04 Elena Interesting with a shocking, twist ending, but the male leads are all cheesy & melodramatic 4 stars
11/18/03 he an okay film 3 stars
5/25/03 Jack Sommersby Stylish & moderately involving, but it lacks tempo, tension, and surprise. Holmes is dour. 3 stars
4/29/03 djacosta A great POS and I don't mean Point Of Sales 1 stars
4/25/03 IHF What is this movie even about. I;ve seen it twice. 1 stars
3/01/03 ME THE BEST FILM 5 stars
12/17/02 Kyle Sucks more cock then a porn star. 1 stars
11/20/02 Ron20003 Yikes. what a crime. 1 stars
10/25/02 qtpie A GREAT FILM 5 stars
10/13/02 "Yes the shit." Saw a screening. It's honestly not worth seeing. Unless you've never seen a suspense film. 1 stars
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  18-Oct-2002 (PG-13)



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