Movie Review: 'Gone'


As far as cinematic storytelling goes, there is abstract, there is complicated, and there is simple.

And then there are movies like Gone, which fall well below simple. It's so basic, dumb, and generic that I have to simply cock an eyebrow and wonder who the hell green-lights movies over at Summit these days. The only people who could find anything to enjoy about the wholly moronic kidnapping thriller Gone are the friends, family members, and employees of luminous leading lady Amanda Seyfried. Written in a stunningly slipshod fashion, and directed with all the grace of a 1972 Canadian TV movie, Gone feels like it was slapped together over two weeks in an effort to close out Amanda Seyfried's contract in quick and inexpensive fashion. And despite her stunning beauty, Gone will do very little to elevate Ms. Seyfried into leading lady territory.

To be fair, nobody could make this script work; not even Meryl Streep could salvage dialogue and plot contortions this outrageously dumb. It'd be easier, perhaps, to dismiss Amanda Seyfried as just another (very) pretty face, but the truth is that she's a pretty decent performer. Unfortunately you'll have to look elsewhere to notice those skills. Here the poor gal is given a lead role, only to be saddled with some of the goofiest material in quite some time. 

Plot-wise: Jill is searching for her kidnapped sister. She's on her own. Through a wacky series of flashbacks and atrociously clunky exposition conversations we learn that Jill was once kidnapped herself, only she escaped, and now she's convinced that her abductor is back. The cops (an inept bunch across the board, but there are lots of them, just to give the flick a few more red herrings that it definitely doesn't need) think Jill is a wacko, her parents are conveniently dead, she has no friends, and she's not a particularly good driver. Oh, and somehow she only has one day to figure out where her sister's been hidden. I'm not sure how she knows this, but I vaguely recall flashback #9 covering that plot thread for a second.

So the screenplay feels like a junior varsity mash-up of Run Lola Run and I Know Who Killed Me (only not as sexy as the former or as enjoyably WEIRD as the latter) -- the leading lady is left floundering amidst gaping plot holes, outrageously obvious plot devices, and a clue trail that leads to an endless array of leering men -- but director Heitor Dhalia certainly doesn't do much to infuse this dreary whodunit with some well-needed energy. Scenes just sort of jam into one another, and the flashbacks are delivered in full-on soap opera style, bizarre and misshapen editing choices pop up with alarming consistency ... basically, Gone is a mess. A cheap, quiet, simplistic one, but a mess all the same.

The one nugget of a cool idea -- that there may have been no crime committed because Jill is simply crazy -- is itself a hoary and tiresome old trope, but since the movie only touches on the psychotic side of the issue in only three or four scene, right up to the witless finale, it's safe to say that the silver lining is a slim one indeed. If you're a huge fan of bad screenwriting (listen closely to the two uniformed cops who pop up halfway through), Gone may hold your interest for a few minutes. Beyond that, all you're left with are the numerous lovely features of Amanda Seyfried's face, and pretty though she may be, she's completely unprepared to salvage a flick this monumentally dumb.