January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

There seems to be a trend that involves teens getting involved with one another and then people ending up dead. Granted, that’s not an entirely new trend, but with this movie and another recent film (Swimfan), the two plots are nearly identical…in theory. Gone, but not yet dead (no pun intended) is the genre of college movies. Granted, this one doesn’t try to be funny, but has its emphasis on the impending graduation of Seniors in their last semester of college. Their thesis is impending (if not already done) and the search for a job is on. To watch the trailer of this movie might let you think that this is a horror movie and that it’s a unique movie. It has the right elements, Katie Holmes, albeit not a huge star, is easy on the eyes and is a reasonable actress. Benjamin Bratt, again not a huge star, has the ability to perform better than he did here. Lastly, the writer of Traffic (Stephen Gaghan) penned this as well. So, while those three elements might not be the strongest in the world to see the film, there are less compelling reasons no to give it a spin…right?

Katie (Katie Holmes) and while it’s on my mind, do they ever think that it’s odd for someone to play a character that has the actor’s real name? Wouldn’t that be a bit confusing? Anyway, Katie (Burke) is a senior at an elite school, though they never really say which one, we figure it’s an Ivy League school. She’s driven, the library is her second home and she’s trying to finish her thesis and find a job in the financial world after her impending graduation. But the local police are now re-opening a case that is some two years old and she is loosely involved. How you ask? Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt) is a recovering alcoholic (a second storyline that seems out of place here) assigned by his Lieutenant (an underused Fred Ward) to solve the mystery of Embry Larkin (Charlie Hunnam). Embry, an eccentric former student of the same university hasn’t been seen in two years by anyone and Katie was his ex-girlfriend. His job is to find out if he’s alive or dead. Normally, it would be an open and shut case, but Katie (and we) see that Embry is back, somewhat haunting her just for the sheer pleasure of it. Embry and Katie were a somewhat happy couple and were supposed to travel overseas together, but since he disappeared without a trace, she has moved on with her life while it seems that he hasn’t.

As the story progresses, Katie and Wade find themselves magnetically attracted to each other. He doesn’t really have any true desire to remain a cop, but in Katie he has found a ray of light in his otherwise dismal life. Katie uses him to ease her pain of her ex-boyfriend, but we know that everyone can’t live happily ever after…right? Abandon is not a bad movie, but the plot seemed to be all over the map. If it was to be a “college” movie, then let it be. It seemed to start a plot, then go the other way and develop another segment of that plot. In the end, and I’m not giving anything away here, there seem to be several loose ends that need tying up. They’re not. The actors turn in some semi-solid performances, but several actors go nearly unused (Tony Goldwin and Fred Ward to name just two). For fans of the genre, they might find it entertaining, but in the realm of these movies, there’s not a whole lot new that can be explored. It is nice to look at Katie Holmes, though!

Video: How does it look?

I was a bit surprised to find that Abandon is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic ratio. The print, flawless and clean, looks simply dazzling on the screen and I’m hard-pressed to find a single thing wrong with it. There are some interior shots that do compromise the integrity of the picture (physically, that is), but not many. To reflect the mood of the film, the majority of the transfer is dark and the image has no trouble with it. While not a perfect transfer, this is the next best thing to it.

Audio: How does it sound?

A very active Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is used and though not the best out there, it makes use of itself when it matters. The rear channels are used at key moments during the film and to great effect. The sounds of birds chirping, wind blowing or just general noise all add to the ambiance of the soundtrack. Dialogue, as one might expect, sounds perfect, very clean and with no distortion. The majority of the action is through the front channels, though, and viewers (listeners, rather) should be happy with the 5.1 track that Paramount has provided.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The film wasn’t that big of a success, so Paramount has wisely decided to give it a few supplements maybe to entice viewers to buy the disc. Good idea. A commentary with director Gaghan and his Director of Photography is rather interesting, though somewhat technical in nature. There are some interesting shots in the movie and they discuss how they did them all in very specific detail. If you’re interested in the film for more technical reasons, then you’ll love this track. A standard “Making of…” featurette is also included, and with interviews with the main members of the cast, it’s not that bad. Though we see this kind of thing all the time, this is fairly decent here. It doesn’t give away the story like so many others and we do see how strongly they feel about the film. Six deleted scenes are also included, though they seem to have been left out for a good reason, namely they don’t add much to the story. Rounding out the supplements are a couple of theatrical trailers (one for the movie and the other for The Four Feathers). Abandon is a movie that will be forgotten in a year or so, and it’s not that bad…but it’s not that great either. Something for a rainy day, perhaps?

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