Despite more than satisfactory acting from lead actress Amanda Seyfried (“Red Riding Hood”) in the new thriller “Gone,” the film’s overly-simplified, predictable and one-dimensional script make the movie a goner.
The film begins one year after Jill (Amanda Seyfried) narrowly escapes death when she is kidnapped and left in the wide-reaching Forest Park in Portland, Ore., to die in a deeply-pitted, manmade hole.
After the incident, Jill lives a tense life in fear that her perpetrator will return. She becomes consumed, maybe unhealthily, with finding and persecuting her almost-killer. Beyond taking self-defense classes and carrying a gun in her purse, she is aware of every person and noise around her, ready to take action against anyone looking to cause her harm.
In addition, Jill avidly collects articles of missing girls and pesters the police to take action to the point where everyone at the police station knows her and knows to ignore her.
This may be in part because there was no evidence uncovered to prove that Jill was ever abducted in the first place, and she was deemed psychologically unstable. Because of this, the police officers treat her like the boy that cried wolf, never taking her claims seriously.
So when Jill’s sister, Molly, played by Emily Wickersham (“Gossip Girl”) unexpectedly goes missing, it is no surprise that Jill becomes armed and dangerous as she fights against the clock and the police to save her sister by herself.
Director Heitor Dhalia (“Adrift”) does little to add depth to the concept of this very stereotypical plot consisting of a vengeful girl on a mission, incredulous police officers, a strange male killer and a happy Hollywood ending. The nature of the plot is realistic, which should instill a bit of fear in the audience, but the script’s execution steals away from the film’s scare factor.
Jill becomes a crazed yet savvy pathological liar, ready to risk her life barging down every dark and creepy road around. One after the other, she flawlessly — and unrealistically — uncovers clues about her sister’s disappearance.
Everything from finding lucky clues in obscure places to paying someone a meager amount of money to borrow their car for a getaway contributes to this far-fetched tale. Instead of attributing Jill’s success to her self-defense training and determination, the convenience of the script makes her look like she was continually in the right place at the right time.
The plot is meant to get the audience thinking about who the killer may be by presenting a few suspicious characters. In most movies, there would be some twisted plot that intertwines or justifies the fishy behavior of all the characters – in “Gone,” however, the killer is found and the audience is left to wonder what the purpose of the other characters had been.
The film ends abruptly and without much explanation: It seems more focused on Seyfried’s engagement in high-speed chases and getaways than showing a bigger picture of the story. Nothing is more disappointing than when the screen turns black and the credits start rolling prematurely, and instead of ending with a cliffhanger, the film ends in confusion.
In short, the film sends viewers mixed messages about the motives of the characters and the true direction of the story. All of these ambiguities pile up, highlighting the film’s weak storytelling.
The most redeeming factor was Seyfried herself, an already well-seasoned actress who did all she could with the role she was given. Though Seyfried’s character in “Gone” will not add much to her impressive list of work, it is entertaining to watch the petite blonde take down and escape from so many cops. That being said, for a thriller film, it is disappointing how easily the case is to solve.
Mindless stories are not always a bad thing. For instance, one can easily enjoy a light-hearted romance flick, overlooking all of its imperfections and corniness. However, in the case of a thriller, an easily decipherable and simple plot is the kiss of death – no pun intended.
Although the story is not the most original or best-told, action-seeking audiences and diehard Seyfried fans – if there are such things – will enjoy watching Seyfried go full out, kick-butt crazy. From sweaty palms to clenched fists, viewers may find themselves sneaking around corners suspicious of every unfamiliar face on the street after seeing “Gone.” On the other hand, audiences might leave the movie wondering what just happened.
2 out of 5 stars