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Abandon
2002 - PG-13 - 99 Mins.
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Producer: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Lynda Obst and Edward Zwick
Written By: Stephen Gaghan
Starring: Katie Holmes, Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Hunnam, Zooey Deschanel, Mark Feuerstein
Review by: Bill King
   
With all the recent films with twist endings, "Abandon" comes across as pretty bland. Part of the fun of watching this kind of film is to replay the movie in our minds to connect the dots and see if the story plays fair. Movies like "Angel Heart," "The Sixth Sense" and "Memento" engage our thought processes and are impressive for their execution. Abandon doesn't inspire any kind of mental rewinding. The movie is presented in a straightforward manner before arriving at a conclusion that is weak and barely requires a double take.

Katie Burke (Katie Holmes) is a smart college senior at some preppy school somewhere. She has friends, but doesn't date. She goes to parties, but doesn't get so involved that her grades drop. The last time she had a boyfriend was during her sophomore year. Embry Larkin (Charlie Hunnam) was a rebel student who pulled off outrageous stunts like jeering an audience before walking out of a play. He disappeared and after two years, nobody has heard from him. Lt. Stayton (Fred Ward) assigns Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt) to the case, after other detectives have failed. Katie is annoyed at his snooping at first, but she gradually begins to like him.

Once the investigation begins, Embry shows up on campus, though not so abruptly. Katie sees him in the distance, as he walks away or slips around corners. As the movie progresses, she has trouble sleeping and her thesis isn't coming along very well. The movie intercuts the main plot with flashbacks detailing how Katie and Embry met. There's also a third set of scenes showing us Katie at her first job after graduation, and these scenes, towards the end, are interwoven with the film's closing moments.

The movie eventually reveals the truth about Embry and Katie. The problem with the film is that there is no sense that something is wrong. There's no build-up to the ending, no anticipation that there's more than what we're actually seeing. Once the big revelation shows itself, I felt like the director, Stephen Gaghan, simply pulled the rug out from under us.

"Abandon" doesn't work as a psychological thriller, but what about as a showcase for the actors? Unfortunately, the movie doesn't work there either. There's not a single noteworthy performance. Talented actors like Katie Holmes, Zooey Deschanel, Fred Ward and Gabrielle Union don't make much of an impact; they simply walked on and off screen without engaging my interest. It's best to abandon the thought of watching this film and seek out something more rewarding instead.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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