February 24, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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GONE:  Not Even For Free – Gone?  Not Soon Enough


When was the last time you saw a non-ironic, non-parody movie where someone was sneaking around in a room belonging to a possible villain, searching in almost total silence for evidence in the recesses of a dark closet, when–literally!–a cat came jumping out of nowhere, yowling with an ear-splitting screech?  Not just a generic fake-shock, but an actual leaping cat?

 Welcome to GONE.

It’s understandable that Amanda Seyfried wants to prove that she can handle a Hollywood lead outside of the rom-com and soap genres where her anime eyes and girl-next-door beauty would so easily pigeonhole her.  But Red Riding Hood didn’t work, and while In Time was surprisingly successful overseas, Seyfried was just “the girl” to Justin Timberlake’s lead.  Gone is her attempt to establish herself as a youthful Ashley Judd action heroine, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea–Judd had a lot of successful years riding those vehicles–if the movie itself weren’t so terrible.

Jill (Seyfried) was abducted by a madman a year ago, and thrown into a pit among the body parts of earlier, less fortunate victims while she waited to die.  She managed to escape, but could produce no evidence that she’d ever been taken, and combined with some pre-existing psychological issues, that was enough for the police, in the person of Detective Powers (Daniel Sunjata) to completely dismiss her story and instead have her committed to a mental institution.  She came out paranoid and anxiety-ridden, a control freak for herself and her roommate younger sister Molly (Emily Wickersham).  When Molly herself goes missing one night, Jill is absolutely positive that her own attacker is the one who’s taken her sister.  And since Molly is an alcoholic and the police give Jill no credence whatsoever, they’re more interested in putting her back in the loony bin than investigating the situation.  So Jill, armed with a pistol and some ability to fabricate stories when needed, has to track him down on her own.

As potboiler premises go, this is reasonably serviceable stuff.  Allison Burnett’s script, though (her recent credits include the Diane Lane thriller Untraceable, the Fame remake and this year’s Underworld Awakening) is far more idiotic than necessary, with the police presented as portraits of cardboard insensitivity and incompetence, and a set of increasingly far-fetched clues for Jill to follow.  The third act veers into a full-fledged revamp of the classic Dutch thriller The Vanishing–except, y’know, completely stupid–until it reaches an anti-climactic conclusion that almost feels like it’s being played for laughs.

Seyfried remains an appealing young actress, but Gone doesn’t give her much to work with, as she alternately widens her eyes with shock and squints them in determination.  Talented actors in support like Sunjata, Jennifer Carpenter (very briefly, as Jill’s only friend), Nick Searcy and Katherine Moenig have little opportunity to show even traces of their talent.   Director Heitor Dhalia, making his Hollywood debut, does nothing to elevate this beyond the level of a TV procedural.

Gone, fittingly, won’t be around long, and unlike–to pick a name at random–Katherine Heigl, Seyfried seems to have more people rooting for her than against her, so a few missteps won’t cause her too much damage.  Next up, and far more important to her career, is her Look-At-Me-I’m-Acting indie showcase as the lead of the already much-hyped biography of Linda Lovelace.  Maybe Gone was all part of her research into surviving the most rudimentary of scripts…

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."