A film review by Craig J. Koban March 7, 2012
2012, PG-13, 94 mins.
2012, PG-13, 94 mins.
Jill: Amanda Seyfried / Lt. Ray Bozeman: Michael Pare / Powers: Daniel Sunjata / Peter Hood: Wes Bentley / Erica Longsdale: Katherine Moennig / Molly: Erica Wickersham
new mystery thriller GONE not only channels “The Idiot Plot Syndrome”,
it proudly champions it to whole new levels of mind-numbing and tedious...idiocy.
know how "The Idiot Plot" works, right?
It refers to any film where the actions of one or more of the
characters are explainable only because they are idiots.
A majority of GONE – a drearily substandard and made-to-order
thriller if there ever was one – focuses on an inherent mystery that’s
incessantly unexciting and lacks even a morsel of tension.
When it’s not boring us with its dubiously unimaginative plot
machinations and vacant character dynamics, it showcases a massive police
manhunt for a deeply troubled girl – who may or not be insane - that
would be over in about…I dunno…ten minutes if this film’s law
enforcement officials were not imbeciles.
GONE, as a result, is not only monotonous tripe as far as thrillers
go, but it’s also insipid tripe to boot.
plot focuses on Jill Parrish (the doll-eyed and attractive Amanda Seyfried) that once was
in the clutches of a maniacal serial stalker and killer of young women.
She was apparently kidnapped, bound, gagged, and thrown into a
large 20-foot deep pit in the ground.
She managed to escape the hellish ordeal, but her homicidal pursuer
was never caught. Regrettably
for Jill, no one believed her story, not even the police or her psychiatrists,
and she eventually was thrown into a psyche hospital for fear that she was
going crazy. A year passed and she managed to get herself out of the
hospital and back into the real world, but her time in there - combined
with the genuine lack of compassion from the police regarding her ordeal -
has left Jill a deeply distressed and fragilely paranoid woman.
lives with her sister, Molly (Emily Wickersham); during one evening she
proceeds to go to her local waitressing job, but when she returns home
later that night she finds that Molly is missing without any apparent
explanation. Despite the fact
that no forcible entry into the home is apparent, Jill is absolutely
convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the man that kidnapped her a
year earlier has now returned and taken her sister.
Yet, there is no real tangible proof that Molly was snatched
against her will. Hmmm...is
Jill really crazy? Was she
even kidnapped in the past? Did
she make her whole story up to the police?
Or, is there really a perverted and twisted minded kidnapper that
tormented her and now wishes to do the same to her sibling?
that Molly will be dead by the end of the night, Jill decides to engage in
a one-woman mission to track down the identity of the attacker and her
sister’s whereabouts. She
initially consults with the police (played so blandly by Daniel Sunjata,
Wes Bentley, and Katherine Moennig that you want to slap some charisma
into them), but most of them just instantly brush her concerns aside,
seeing as they did not believe her own kidnapping story from twelve months
past. The detectives are at
least concerned for her mental well being, seeing as Jill seems on the
verge of a total breakdown when they refuse to offer her assistance.
Nonetheless, Jill gathers up her will and determination and begins
to scour the streets and local businesses to see if anyone potentially has
any evidence of Molly being taken. She begins to uncover the secrets of Molly’s captor and where he might
have taken her, but her task becomes all the more difficult when her
actions on the streets – usually involving her crazily pointing a gun at
people – gets the attention of the police, who engage in their own
manhunt after her.
thriller that barely registers over 90 minutes, GONE gets off to a really,
really slow start and takes seemingly forever to develop any real narrative momentum. This is
not assisted by the fact that most of the film’s action comes in the
form of Jill engaging in long cell phone and personal conversations,
switching vehicles multiple times, and leading the cops on decidedly
boring and perfunctory car and foot chases through the conveniently barren
streets of Portland. When the
film makes attempts at scaring audiences in moments of would-be menace, it
shamelessly and pathetically comes in the form of things either going bump
in the night or stray animals jumping out in front of characters without
warning. There needs to be an
immediate moratorium on movies having screeching cats lunge out at
characters in desolate and run-down houses for cheap “boo” moments.
of course, there is the film’s adherence to “The Idiot Plot”: I
guess that I don’t directly have a problem with a woman as attractive
looking as Jill being able to use her feminine charm and some well
articulated and convincing lies to gain information from people that seem
less intelligent than her, like hardware store owners, landlords,
janitors, fellow waitresses, and neighbors.
I also don’t really have issues with the notion of a tirelessly
desperate woman like Jill going to great lengths to find her sister, even
when her fanaticism with her mission seems to be overriding her common
sense and the evidence at hand. I
truly don’t take exception to these things.
do take umbrage with the notion that the collective power of the Portland
police force are unable to track, locate, and apprehend Jill throughout
most of the film; in all normal likelihood, if this film's Portland PD and
detectives were not idiots and behaved like savvy law enforcers they would be able to
easily capture Jill without much issue or delay. It’s not a ringing endorsement for the police in general when
they can't find nab a fairly pretty blond-haired standout like Jill - even
when she herself has committed several arrestable offences and never once
makes attempts to disguise herself – or even piece together simple clues
that straightforwardly points to Molly’s kidnapping. Nope, because in this film’s bizarre “Idiot Plot
Syndromed” universe a distraught and potentially insane young girl is
able to out-sleuth the police. Uh-huh.
The detectives in this film couldn’t find a suspect even if they
reached out in front of them with their hands outstretched asking to be
worse is the film’s absurd plot twists and its bizarre and needlessly
strained attempts at falsely leading viewers into thinking that certain
characters are prime suspects, which are so obviously force-fed that to
buy into them would, in turn, make you a fool.
GONE excretes red herrings in its plot like it were going out of
style, like, for example, introducing us to certain characters, making
them look suspicious, and then having them exit the film for almost its
entirety afterwards to hint at their guilt.
This film also contains trite throwaway lines of dialogue uttered
by embarrassed actors that pathetically try to point at certain people
being prime suspects because they are not available when they need to be
questioned. My favorite has
one police officer tell another that one key character - that may or may
not be the kidnapper - is not around because he went to his sick
mother’s house to bring her some soup.
is an appealing screen presence that does what she can with this dreadful
material and infuses Jill with a believable level of frenzied fortitude
throughout. The problems with
GONE are that I just never once bought into its outlandish and nonsensical
cock-and-bull story conventions, its overly telegraphed and manipulative
plot maneuvers (this film smugly thinks its smarter than the viewers and
never once is), and its startling lack of tension.
Very few thrillers are as mercilessly dull as GONE.
idiotic too…let’s not forget that.