By Kimberly Gadette (doddleNEWS)
It’s been a year since Amanda Seyfried’s Jill, the heroine of Gone, ran through the forest from some unknown killer on the loose. In a parallel construct, it’s been about a year since Amanda Seyfried’s Valerie, the heroine of Red Riding Hood, also ran through of the forest from some unknown killer on the loose. In both cases, the heroine’s sister is a victim as well. Why choose to do a second waltz through the deadly woods? Maybe because the prior film was such a failure, Seyfried is looking to Gone as a do-over. Oh, if only fairy tales could come true.
But this heroine sports a blue hoodie instead of a red cape, and we’re transported from a village in medieval times to Portland, Oregon of today. Taking as many self-defense classes as anxiety pills, Jill is finally on the shaky road to recovery – until she comes home from her all-night waitress job at a diner to discover that her sister is missing. Immediately, Jill intuits that the maniac who nearly killed her is up to his old tricks. Even though she rushes to the police station to report the probable abduction, the officers treat her concerns as if she’d just lost her favorite lipstick. They all but pat her on the head and tell her to go home like a good girl. Aside from the soft-spoken new cop (Wes Bentley) who may be helpful, dangerous, or just a throwaway red herring, Jill realizes she can only rely on herself. That said, she has less than 24 hours to rescue her sister, find the killer, elude the police and save the day. Red Riding Hood notwithstanding, this film is obviously the bona fide fairy tale.
In further consideration of do-overs, Gone reflects the third time that producer Tom Rosenberg and his production company Lakeshore Entertainment have located their films in Portland, Oregon. (The two other movies are the unremarkable Untraceable and Feast of Love.) Like an eager young woman hoping to appear desirable by going out with any fellow who asks – and sullying her reputation in the process – Portland may want to give this particular suitor the boot. Particularly since the film depicts the city’s police department as run by arrogant, callous idiots. Worse, the one female detective (Katherine Moennig) never, ever combs her hair. Now that’s just nasty.
Allison Burnett’s screenplay is rife with one annoyance after another. “Please” — says Jill, begging the cops to help her find her absent sister Molly — “she’s the only family I have.” Meaning that if there were other relations, we wouldn’t need to bother with Sis at all? And ooh, Jill may be packing a gun! Since that fact is beyond alarming, rather than assigning even one cop to attempt to find the missing sibling, the police department sends four squad cars to surround a paint store where Jill’s inside, chatting it up with the manager. Is she going to riddle the Sherwin-Williams’ inventory with a torrent of bullets? Further, though the heroine has no racecar driving experience that we know of, she easily outmaneuvers hordes of police vehicles that are hot in pursuit. As for her actions, while Jill knows she has to keep a low profile, she can’t help but speed through red lights. Even when taking the occasional bus, she chooses a cozy spot right next to the big glass window, where any law enforcement officer could easily spot her. Oh, wait, this is the brainless police … never mind.
In the past, Seyfried’s career has had some lovely high points (Mean Girls, Chloe, even a fun turn in Jennifer’s Body) – but her recent choices have been jaw-droppingly inane. Given this film’s poor writing and flaccid direction, we get a tedious look at a woman in peril from start to finish. While Seyfried’s Jill may have a few chances to bully a possible witness here, or charm another one there, she’s stuck on stubborn auto-pilot, intent on bludgeoning her way forward in order to save the day.
But things are looking up or, rather, down. Seyfried’s starring role in the Linda Lovelace biopic is right around the corner. And if that film doesn’t change the current tedium … nothing will.
Rating on a scale of 5 utter goners: 2
Release date: February 24, 2012
Directed by: Heitor Dhalia
Written by: Allison Burnett
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Daniel Sunjata, Jennifer Carpenter, Sebastian Stan, Wes Bentley
Running Time: 94 minutes