"Gone is a B-Movie starring an A-List actress.
Amanda Seyfried, formerly of Allentown, plays Jill, a Portland, Ore., kidnap victim who escapes her captor and believes he's back, after the disappearance of her sister, Molly (Emily Wickersham), who is her room-mate.
Jill reports her sister's disappearance to the Portland police, who don't believe her, just as they didn't believe her concerning her own kidnapping two years before. That's partly because the authorities involuntarily committed Jill to a hospital psychiatric ward over her allegations.
So, Jill takes it upon herself to attempt to track down the alleged kidnapper. This leads to car chases (including Seyfried going all Mario Andretti in a beat-up 1988 Saab and 1960's Ford Bronco, no less), foot races and police partner discussions ala "CSI" or a "buddy cops" movie all elements of a psychological action thriller, which "Gone" mostly succeeds in being.
The goal of the police is not on apprehending the alleged kidnapper, but in bringing Jill into custody after they discover that she is packing a pistol, which she is prohibited from having because of the terms of her psychological care.
It's a testament to the acting prowess of Seyfried ("Letters to Juliet," "Dear John," "Chloe," "Jennifer's Body," "Mama Mia!), who is in nearly every scene, that "Gone" rises above the level of a slasher film.
"Gone" is one of those movies where the protagonist falls into the category of "stupid things people do when they should know better." In other words, don't go into the woods alone. Don't drive down long, dirt roads at night. You get the picture.
Brazilian director Heitor Dhalia ("Adrift"), working from a screenplay by Allison Burnett ("Underworld: Awakening," "Untraceable," "Resurrecting the Champ") lets the camera linger on Seyfried's luminous and expressive eyes, which speak volumes, as does the heart-shaped innocence of her face. We believe Seyfried and go along for the ride.
Jill's recollections of her own abduction are told in several flashbacks laced through the story that gradually reveal more and more about her kidnapping.
"Gone" is hampered by a lack of interaction between Jill and other characters, a lack of development of supporting characters, and a deficiency in casting more memorable actors in supporting roles.
Seyfried plays the damsel in distress, or, in this case, the distressed damsel in distress, convincingly. Her countenance is dead-serious for most of the film. She sympathetically conveys the world of a female victim, ever hyper-vigilant. She rarely cracks a smile, despite text messages on her smart phone reminding her to do so.
The opening scene of "Gone" depicts Seyfried wandering in the woods, not unlike the role she portrayed in "Red Riding Hood." Several scenes in "Gone" are similar to those of "In Time," in which she co-starred opposite Justin Timberlake.
With "Gone," it's all Amanda, who will be 27 in December. She pulls it off. One only wishes the material would have better served her talents. That's OK. We have several upcoming, daring and provocative films starring Seyfried scheduled for release this year, including "Lovelace" and "Les Miserables."
"Gone," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for violence and terror, some sexual material, brief language and drug references; Genre: Drama, Thriller; Run Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes; Distributed by Summit Entertainment.
Credit Readers Anonymous: "Gone" was filmed on location in Portland, Ore.
Box Office, Feb. 24: "Act of Valor" opened at No. 1, with $24.7 million, keeping "Good Deeds" opening at No.2, with $16 million.
3. "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," $13.5 million," $76.7 million, three weeks; 4. "Safe House," $11.4 million, $98.1 million, three weeks; 5. "The Vow," $10 million, $103 million, three weeks; 6. "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," $8.8 million, $37.8 million, two weeks; 7. "This Means War," $8.5 million, $33.6 million, two weeks; 8. "Wanderlust," $6.6 million, opening; 9. "Gone," $5 million, opening; 10. "The Secret World of Arrietty," $4.5 million, $14.7 million, two weeks
Oscar wrap: The 84th Oscar show was, as expected, predictable, down to nine-time Oscars' show host Billy Crystal's corny but often funny jibes and opening "It's me Billy in the Oscar picture nominees" comedy film.
As predicted by many, the black and white silent movie, "The Artist" was the big winner, winning five of its 10 nominations, besting "Hugo," winning five of 11 nominations, but mostly in minor categories.
"The Artist" was the first silent movie to receive an Oscar since "Wings" during the first Oscar telecast in 1927.
Christopher Plummer, 82, became the eldest Oscar recipient as supporting actor for "Beginners."
Meryl Streep, 17-time Oscar nominee, pulled an upset of sorts if Streep winning an acting award can be considered an upset when she received the actress Oscar for "The Iron Lady" at the Feb. 26 Academy Awards. The favorite and presumed actress recipient was Viola Davis, "The Help."
My Oscar picks were correct in eight of nine major categories. I chose Davis instead of Streep.
Unreel, March, 2:
"Dr. Seuss' The Lorax," PG: Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito and Ed Helms voice the characters in the animation version about the popular Dr. Seuss character. Here, a 12-year-old boy tries to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. The film is produced by Illumination Entertainment, which did "Despicable Me."
"Project X," R: Three high school seniors try to become popular by throwing a big party. That's when the trouble begins in the comedy that stars several newcomers (Thomas, Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Dax Flame).
Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes