Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment’s Gone is a mess.
Released without advance critics’ screenings in February, the film was clearly deemed not worthy of widespread theatrical distribution but wasn’t quite regarded badly enough to be relegated to existence as a Lifetime movie of the week – it is, in simplest terms, an example of “Red Box filmmaking;” it’s a movie that the powers-that-be had to find a use for somewhere.
The film stars Amanda Seyfried (Mean Girls, Red Riding Hood) as Jill, a young woman with a history of mental illness who claims to have been abducted a year or so prior to the events of the film. When her little sister turns up missing, she fears the same fate may have befallen her.
What follows is a ‘Law & Order’-esque series of “a guy who leads her to the guy who leads her to the guy” misadventures in which Jill tries desperately to piece together what little evidence she has and the aid of the only person on the police force who believes her, newly-arrived homicide Detective Hood (Wes Bentley).
What I’ve neglected to mention thus far is the fact that, in spite of the seeming life-or-death urgency of the situation, Jill rarely does so much as raise her voice (or even an eyebrow) to convey any kind of emotion or distress. And in those instances in which it seems like Seyfried might have the opportunity to infuse a little emotion or intensity to the character, the movie invariably switches gears and moves along to the next clue – which more often than not leads absolutely nowhere, by the way.
To be frank, I could have left this review as is with the first sentence: This movie is an absolute mess from top to bottom.
Director Heitor Dhalia isn’t able to coax much out of his actors which includes Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter. Seyfried has flashes of potential that are quickly extinguished whenever they pop up, and Bentley comes across as being even more monotonous than his most famous role in 1999’s American Beauty (I didn’t even think that was POSSIBLE).
Indeed, the most convincing performances come from what could basically be described as the “day players;” the one-scene characters that Jill interviews to get closer to the truth. You know things are going downhill when the best performance in the movie comes from Joel David Moore, who’s on camera for a grand total of about three-and-a-half minutes… three-and-a-half non-consecutive minutes.
As for the script, screenwriter Allison Burnett is all over the place – the story starts out lacking direction, and despite every winding road that Burnett builds for Jill to traverse, none of her efforts seem to get her anywhere until the last 30 minutes of the film. By that point, every prior clue has led to so many dead ends that the audience is left wondering how we got here in the first place.
This isn’t to say that the plot is hard to follow but only that there are a lot of threads to follow. More often than not, even my earlier ‘Law & Order’ comparison doesn’t quite scratch the surface of how Gone fails to play like a theatrical film. It’s more like three seasons of every police procedural television series you’ve ever seen – ever – all rolled into one incomprehensible 90-minute mess.
Lionsgate brings Gone to Blu-ray with a decent 1080p AVC-encoded transfer that makes great use of both the highly-colorful greens of the Oregon woodlands as well as the grimy underbelly of the back alleys and slums that Jill must head into to get her answers. There were no discernible instances of noise or grain and, more often than not, images are extremely crisp and clean. There are a handful of night-time scenes when the black levels appear to be out of balance, but they are few and far between.
The sound doesn’t get quite as good a treatment. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track does its job, but the more high-impact moments tend to come out of nowhere and, for lack of a better description, the soundtrack never seems to be ready for it. There will be a gunshot or a car crash come out of nowhere, and at the point of impact, the sound always seems like it’s playing catch-up. In terms of dialogue, all lines are easy to understand, and ambient noise is routinely present without ever being distracting.
Beyond the Feature
Beyond the feature, there’s… well, there’s nothing. Lionsgate has released a bare- bones edition for Gone with no special features to speak of. With that in mind, the film obviously gets a “0” for Extras right off the bat, but I’d honestly rather have no special features than a bunch of nothing 5-minute featurettes.
At the end of the day, I genuinely feel like Gone was trying but lacked a cast or a crew that was capable of overcoming the daunting hurdles that manifested themselves in the wake of what could laughingly be called the movie’s plot.
Earlier I referred to Gone as “RedBox filmmaking.” My recommendation is to treat it as such.
Shop for Gone on Blu-ray for a discounted price at Amazon.com (May 29, 2012 release date).