When a film is denied an opportunity to be screened for critics upon its original release, it is usually a strong indication of its regrettable quality. Though it is possible to imagine that reviewers have had to sit through worse films than this crime thriller, Gone does not prove to be the exception to the unwritten rule; throughout the majority of its 90-minute running time it is simple, to the point of frustration, and fundamentally bland.
Anna Seyfried plays Jill (for her sake, a role that one hopes her leading credentials are not judged by), a young, paranoid woman, determined to find the man who once abducted her. Unfortunately for Jill, no one believes her story, or that such a man exists, many disregarding her fervent claims due to her seemingly unstable mental health. Abandoned by her friends, not trusted by the police, Jill is forced to take the law into her own hands when her sister is kidnapped. Believing this attack is related to her own, she adopts the role of detective to hunt a man everyone associates with her insanity, but is there a possibility he could actually be real?
It is a darn shame that Jill’s daytime job is being a waitress (something we can only presume helped nurture her investigative skills), because she actually makes a fine detective; lying on cue to avoid suspicion; making grand assumptions on basic pieces of evidence (masking tape, receipts) that just happen to be in convenient places; asking questions and getting immediate answers from the most obscure of witnesses (shopkeepers, janitors) that somehow seem to know everything. Step aside Holmes; Jill makes the job look effortless.
Essentially, with the plot creating little in terms of obstacle, and the pathway to her assailant really that easy, what arises is that age-old problem where insufficient conflict breeds underwhelming entertainment.
Gone’s demeanor is best summarised by its thinly portrayed antagonists, who pose little threat to proceedings. This includes the police, the faux-antagonists who hound Jill after she takes up her vigilante (or as they see it, mad woman with a gun) stance, and disposed of with ease in some poorly constructed chase sequences. In fact, the film seems intent on highlighting their stupidity, whether through their inadequate on-screen actions or, contextually, some pointless characters (a la Wes Bentley’s Peter Hood, the one officer who wants to “help” Jill but … doesn’t quite get round to it). It is blatant enough that you could begin to analyse Gone as an anti-establishment piece, until you realise that it is just idle writing and direction without any depth. Still, after a build-up that seems anemic, it is at least in keeping with the tone that its conclusion is just as insipid, one that does well to defy any slim moral expectation of the characters, and deny any logical, redemptive closure.
While it may be harmless, Gone has no ideas, no surprising twists and little charisma. The cinematography, lighting and editing is quite fine, but you know you have problems when you start to focus on technicality because you are so far detached from the story. It may do well to interest followers of Seyfried’s career, but it is hard to justify something that does so little to enthrall. A thriller it is not.
DVD extras: N/A
Gone will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on 13 August 2012.