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Highbrow exercise in a usually lowbrow genre.
gridoon24 December 2003
Katie Holmes is well-cast as an intellectual college student in this intellectual thriller, a strange bird of a movie to sit alongside the current batch of "teen" horror films (did you know that in this one the students actually - gasp!- study?). Admittedly it moves at a measured pace (some would say "like molasses"), and doesn't really take off until the last 2 minutes or so (!), when it presents a final twist which I, for one, did not see coming, and which saves the entire picture. All through the film you get the feeling they have something to show you at the end, and indeed they do, but perhaps they shouldn't have waited so long to get there. Excellent score and cinematography. (**1/2)
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Katie's Creek
wes-connors18 November 2011
Upwardly mobile Katie Holmes (as Katie Burke) tries to concentrate on her college thesis while thinking about a career after graduation. Understandably a little stressed, Ms. Holmes has occasional flashbacks about beautiful blond ex-boyfriend Charlie Hunnam (as Embry Larkin). A rich bohemian artist-type, the charismatic Mr. Hunnam disappeared two years ago. Holmes has had no steady lover since then, although tree-hugging Gabriel Mann (as Harrison "Harry" Hobart) shows interest. Meanwhile, recovering alcoholic detective Benjamin Bratt (as Wade Handler) is assigned to investigate Hunnam's mysterious disappearance as Holmes is frightened by a stalker who looks just like him...

Multi award-winning writer turning director Stephen Gaghan gets good, steady cinematography from Matthew Libatique. However, the positioning of actors and set direction is sometimes obvious and distracting. Holmes has the messiest imaginable room but likes to straighten Bratt's pictures. Matches her psyche. Getting Holmes crotch-level with therapist Tony Goldwyn (as David Schaffer) matches the script. So, there is cohesion. However, you care more about what happened to poor "Harrison" than the lead characters, who come together for the predictable surprise ending. There is life-sustaining support from friendly Zooey Deschanel, mousy Melanie Lynskey and clean-cut Mark Feuerstein.

***** Abandon (3/1/02) Stephen Gaghan ~ Katie Holmes, Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Hunnam, Gabriel Mann
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Teasing that goes nowhere
caspian197822 June 2004
The surprise ending and the amazing supporting cast could not save this movie. For starters, the movie was promoted as a Katie Holmes thriller. The movie does have several moments of thrilling, on the edge of your seat moments with terrific direction to make the movie a good (almost horror like) movie. Still, the movie drags ans drags and drags that you don't care what happens to any of the characters or whether or not the mystery is solved. Katie Holmes tries, but fails to carry the movie. Even though with strong supporting roles from Fred Ward and Benjamin Bratt, Katie Holme's eye candy only goes so far until you begin to lose interest. The love scene between Bratt and Holmes was not only sad but not believable. The thirteen year old age difference could have had something to do with that. Also, you don't see much during the love scene accept for some close ups and the post-sex scene. The transitions between scenes do nothing to keep the audience drawn in to the film's conclusion. With that, nobody is left to see the end of the film because they have fallen asleep somewhere in the middle.
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Misguided Thriller/Character Study, but not as bad as many claim it is
MissCzarChasm8 June 2003

I was a little hard on this film when I initially reviewed it upon its release. After watching it on DVD again I realized that there is a very clever and beautiful story to be told but problems in the script prevent it from truly taking off. The performances, cinematography, and music are all great but it just can't seem to find a solid direction.

A film's trailer is a gateway to success and sometimes failure. In the case of Abandon, it proved to be the latter. The film was marketed as a non-stop psychological thriller but to be honest the thrills are few and far between. Abandon is more a character study with the atmosphere of a thriller. The film's main priority is to tell a story and I think audiences were really disappointed when they saw a movie that was short on thrills. That could explain its not so great $10 million dollar box office gross.

Abandon is about a beautiful young girl named Katie Burke (Katie Holmes) who is nearing her graduation from a very prestigious school. She has a nice future ahead of her, including a potential job at a top New York firm. However, things begin to unravel when Katie's past comes back to haunt her. A police detective, by the name of Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt), is investigating the disappearance of Embry Langan (Charlie Hunnam), Katie's wealthy and sometimes eccentric ex-boyfriend. Embry has not been seen or heard from in 2 years, and the lawyers for his estate want to know whether he's alive or dead. When the detective begins to bring up several events from the past, Katie begins to see Embry around campus and other various locations. Has Embry come back for love or revenge?

Abandon has a lot of positives but a thriller it certainly is not. Abandon falters when it tries, at great lengths, to scare and surprise its audience. Stephen Gaghan, who won an Oscar for writing Traffic and is directing for the first time with this film, can't seem to properly direct scenes that are suppose to keep us on the edge of our seats. However, He does a good job of making us wonder if Embry is really back or if Katie is seeing things. Most of his encounters come about when she's half asleep or frustrated and the possibility of these two different outcomes are one of the scripts strengths. Another scene that resonates involves a truly alarming surprise for our main character when she's alone in the library. Other than that, all the thrills are by the book or non-existent.

Abandon's biggest strength is what isn't shown in the trailers. First and foremost this film works as a very deep character study. As a character, Katie is very interesting and her past experiences with men (including her father) who have left her plays an important part into the mysterious disappearance of Embry. The character is well developed and several scenes give us great insight into her inner struggles. We learn about her relationship with Embry through beautifully filmed flashbacks that are probably the best aspects of this picture. The flashbacks are backed by a very moody score and a sense of realism that make for really good scenes. We learn through these sequences that Embry and Katie were a very happy couple, with a possibly nice future ahead of them. When the film switches back to real-time we realize why his disappearance has hurt her so much. There is also an interesting tidbit about how she attracts men and doesn't even realize it. This part of the story establishes many key points in the plot that I simply can't reveal here. Needless to say Katie's development as a character is far more interesting than the thrills, or lack thereof, that are present in this film. More emphasis should've been placed on the characters and not on what might scare us.

I must give major kudos to Katie Holmes for conveying all the emotions necessary to establish Katie Burke as a very interesting character. Katie Holmes proves that she can carry a film all on her own. Holmes usually turns in adequate performances in supporting roles such as in Wonder Boys and The Gift. In this film everything is on her shoulders and she comes out of it on top. A crucial scene during her job interview for the law firm is not just a statement of power for the character, but for Katie Holmes as well. The scene shows us that Katie Holmes is ready to play a WOMAN and is prepared to leave the fickle role of Dawson's Creek's Joey Potter behind. She carries herself so well during this film it makes you wonder what she can really do in a movie that has a better focus. Another asset that Katie brings to the role is a nice mix of naivety and sex appeal. Katie Holmes has a look of pure innocence but she carries herself with a sex appeal beyond her years. This works for the character during several key scenes. After Dawson Creek comes to an end this year Katie will be one of the few to have a flourishing movie career once the Creek dries up. The cast members should get in touch with her agent.

> Benjamin Bratt is stuck in a thankless supporting role that isn't much of a challenge for the actor. This is essentially the same part he played on Law & Order and in Miss Congeniality. I heard that he displayed a great deal of range in the critically acclaimed Pinero so maybe he should focus more on leading roles instead of throwaway supporting roles. I will say that I did buy the relationship between he and Katie that developed during the film. Some critics found it unbelievable but for this story I felt that it worked on a certain level.

Charlie Hunnam has a very difficult task of making Embry an interesting character. Since Embry is only shown through flashbacks and his few "return" encounters with Katie it must've been really hard for him convey the emotions necessary to make Embry the eccentric character that everyone describes him as. Hunnam is quite adequate in his few scenes. He does a good job of making Embry into a very spoiled and eccentric personality but there is something about this that hurts his character development. Half the flashbacks show him as a pampas asshole. The entire time they were trying to figure out if Embry just left town or if he was dead I really could care less. When a character is mostly unlikable it's very hard to care about what dastardly deed was committed against them.

Supporting performances from Gabrielle Union, and particularly Zooey Deschanel are quite good. Deschanel provides the film with much needed comic relief. When the film begins to lag she brings it back up with a very sharp delivery of some funny lines.

I guess the most disappointing thing about this film is that Stephen Gaghan's directorial debut is flawed, mainly because of his very own direction. There is a more compelling story to be told here and I think if he would've explored it more this film could've been much better. His script lays down the foundation for some great ideas but his direction doesn't allow them to shine through. He did some great work with the complex Traffic screenplay, creating interesting characters and interesting circumstances for them to fall back on. This is what makes this muddled effort a minor letdown. While watching a making of feature on the DVD I learned that he had never even picked up a camera to record anything as he was growing up. Maybe some more experience could've helped him as he was making this picture.

Technically the film is almost a masterpiece. The cinematography paints a very moody and effective atmosphere for the film. The cinematographer also did work on Requiem for a Dream and some of the brilliant work he did on that film is evident here. The use of beautifully lit backgrounds and scenery paint a perfect portrait for the flashback scenes and his use of dark blues and muddy greens provide set the mood for the darker themes of the story. For instance, there is a scene where Katie first sees Embry's return in a room that consists of a strobe light. The scene is so well done that it's one of the scenes that generates any tension. It's a scene that proves that atmosphere is key. The music, which was composed by another Requiem for a Dream team member, is also great. The score supplies a unique voice for the main character and almost serves as a way to get into her mind. There is a scene where Katie ventures back to Embry's country house for the first time since his disappearance and the scores soft yet moody use of the piano during this scene is enough to convey the emotions that the character is feeling.

I also was a bit hard on the film's ending when I first reviewed it but upon second viewing I think it actually works. It is a bit cliché but the acting throughout this sequence makes it bearable.

I recommend Abandon only if you're willing to accept the film for what it is: a character study that is light on the thrills. If you're going in expecting something that's going to keep you glued to your seat in fear then you may be disappointed.

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i found it mostly non-believable,pointless and confusing
disdressed1216 December 2007
mostly i found this movie non-believable,pointless and confusing.i didn't find it really predictable,but most people probably will.the acting was OK,but not great.Zooey Deschanel was the only bright spot,in my opinion.Benjamin Bratt appeared in the movie and was adequate.Katie Holmes was supposed to be the star,i think.i found her sub par,as usual.i don't really like her that much,and have yet to see he in a good movie.or rather i have yet to see her put in a good performance in a movie.the ending was something most people will probably see coming a mile away.it's not something i predicted,but it wasn't surprising either.my vote for Abandon is a 4/10
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Not perfect but worth seeing
Rogue-3216 September 2004
Caught this on cable last night and I liked it. I thought Katie Holmes did extremely well with a very tricky role, and I thought there were a lot of well written exchanges between the characters, excellent atmospheric touches, and enough psychological ambiguity to allow me to figure out what was really going on before the ending, but this didn't make the film predictable - it made it clever. And the title is a good one - extremely telling, a clue in itself. Of course, it's not a perfect film by any stretch; there's too much stuff that really doesn't need to be in the movie but I still give it a 6 (my IMDb equivalent of *** - a decent premise, decently executed).
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a very average movie
famousmonster0018 December 2002
Abandon is a very average movie. It's nothing that's going to blow the viewer away, but it's not a terrible movie either. Katie Holmes does a good job playing Katie Burke a student nearing the end of college, trying to get her thesis done and land a good job. The movie focuses on the investigation by Wade Handler (Bratt) into the disappearance of Katie's boyfriend two years earlier. Although the film had some good twists and wasn't really predictable, most of the characters other than Katie Burke came off as kind of flat and boring. Embry Larkin played by Charlie Hunnam as Katie's ex-boyfriend was made out to be a wonderful, highly talented genius, but he didn't seem anything special to me. I didn't think Wade Handler, the police officer investigating the disappearance, came across as an very interesting character either. Overall, I'd say that this is an all right movie, but I'd only watch it if nothing else better was available.
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Why did people stay away ?
dozanddoz13 December 2002
I went with my younger sister for the sole purpose to see the lovely Katie Holmes. I didn't expect much. But trash, the movie was not. I was very impressed with the story, the acting, the Hitchcock-like suspense, and the turn that occurred at the end. My favorite part was the library scene with the eyes behind the bookshelf. A big stepping-stone for Katie Holmes, who I think will continue to get starring roles and turn into a Natalie Wood like star. She is both beautiful and a good actress. This film is definitely a renter, and should have been better accepted when it was released, critic-wise and box office-wise. *** out of ****. Watch it and enjoy.
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Something unexpected
oddjob9914 October 2002
I wasn't sure what to think of this film during the first hour. I thought it was unfocused and a bit confusing at first. But sit through this one, once you get to the end, you will see there is a reason for the unfocused quality of the film. I will not say anymore about the story than that. Katie Holmes is fantastic in this film, I will watch her movie career with interest. Her acting is somewhat reminiscent of Ashley Judd, but not completely. It may seem to some people that this film is slowly paced, but stick with it. It's worth it. 8/10
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Stress with repressed allusion.
michaelRokeefe6 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Intense, dark and desperate. Katie(Katie Holmes)is a college student that has about reached her stress level trying to finish her thesis while competing with her friends for job interviews to enter the corporate world. There is one other thing...Katie is haunted by illusions of her extravagant well-to-do ex-boyfriend Embry(Charlie Hunnam) who's been missing for two years. Things become very tense and more complicated when a reluctant detective(Benjamin Bratt)reopens the missing person's case. This sleeper almost gets the best of you; but right before nodding off...the finale explains everything. Drug and alcohol scenes plus some mild sexuality and violence earn the PG13 rating.

Most of the interest is the young Holmes, who seems to beg for your protection. Bratt could have phoned this one in. Zooey Daschanel is very noticeable as the 'anything goes' collage girl. Also in the cast: Fred Ward, Melanie Lynskey, Gabriel Mann and Gillian Ferrabee.
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Everybody Loves Katie!
lavatch1 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The protagonist of the film is Katherine "Katie" Burke, a hotshot financial consultant with a mysterious past. The strength of "Abandon" is the rich detail in the characters and the carefully crafted screenplay. There was a fascinating variety of interesting roles drawn with care. This includes such secondary characters as Katie's best friend, Samantha "Bad Sam" Harper, who do not even figure prominently in the main narrative.

As the film progresses, it becomes clear that nearly everyone loves Katie Burke! From her past, there is Embry Larkin, the charismatic performance artist whom Katie calls "an arrogant, preening bore," who had suddenly disappeared after his graduation. Then, there is the kind cop named Wade Handler, who simply cannot resist Katie after she tells him he has "kind eyes." There is the tag-along, tree-hugging environmentalist, Harrison "Harry" Hobart, who has been infatuated with Katie for years and finally girds himself to declaring his love. There is Bob Hanson, the employer and work supervisor from her first job with the distinguished financial firm of McKisson. Finally, there is Dr. Jack, the psychiatrist who can't keep his hands off Katie. The little librarian, "Mousie Julie," has the distinction of speaking the best line in the film: "Guys are drawn to her (Katie) like bugs to a bug lamp."

The film unfolds a suspenseful storyline around Queen Bee Katie Burke. The audience is kept guessing and the film pulls out all of the stops with a surprise ending. One of the most interesting details in the script was the background on Katie's relationship with her father.

The film was loosely adapted from the novel "Adam's Eyes" by Sean Desmond. The novel was primarily a ghost story set in a haunted dormitory of Harvard University. Writer-director Stephen Gaghan, noted for the brilliant screenplay for the Academy-award-winning "Traffic," completely revised the novel into a much stronger thriller based the multi-dimensional protagonist played effectively by Katie Holmes. The work on editing and the camera angles added to the tension. Benjamin Bratt is also memorable as the sensitive, bookish cop.

The Wikipedia article on "Abandon" refers to the film as a "fiasco." Although it was not a box office hit in 2002, twenty years later, it is apparent that the film is superior to today's run-of-mill potboilers. This was a carefully crafted film with enough suspense to fill a pond in a nearby abandoned dormitory full of mystery and lead the audience into the darkest caverns of the human mind.
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2002 was not ready for this movie
jennybeverage18 March 2018
I thought this movie was great! I'm surprised I never saw it, as I love Gabriel Mann, Katie Holmes, Zoey Deschancel, etc.

This movie has a 4.9 right now and I can't believe that. It is more artsy than perhaps people were ready for back when it came out, but now I think it's a really great movie. "Slow" maybe but not more than a hundred films in the 2000s and 2010s that got much higher ratings. It's not horribly confusing either, although you do get to think during it to figure out what you think is going on. It's pretty good.

I give this a 7.5.
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Predictable and Forgettable Low-Budget Movie
claudio_carvalho20 April 2005
Detective Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt) is assigned to investigate the disappearance of the millionaire Embry Larkin (Charlie Hunnam), who vanished two years ago. Wade looks for Embry's former girlfriend, Katie Burke (Katie Holmes), in the campus of their university. Katie is under pressure, completing her thesis, disputing a job in a reputable and prestigious company and having sessions with her psychiatric, Dr. David Schaffer (Tony Goldwyn). Katie misses Embry, since she has no family, but she feels a great attraction for Detective Wade. During the investigation, Embry returns without any explanation and her colleague Harrison Hobart (Gabriel Mann) that has a crush on her disappears. Katie believes that Embry is the responsible and tells to Wade. But nobody can find Embry.

"Abandon" is a predictable and forgettable low-budget movie. The storyline is interesting but the screenplay is boring and deserved to be improved. It is not difficult to foresee the plot when Embry returns. The conclusion is excellent. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Sem Pistas" ("Without Tracks")

Note: On 25 November 2015, I saw this movie again.
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"Take me with you"
PredragReviews15 September 2016
"Abandon" plays out like a B-movie, but a very good one at that. It's not as polished as most Hollywood fare; it's gritty and dark, and I think this does the film a huge service (thought I was gonna say 'disservice' didn't you). 'Abandon' is at moments chilling and this is thanks in large part to Holmes performance. Katie has always had potential but it wasn't until just before she went cuckoo for Tom Cruise that she actually began to tap into it. The rest of the cast does a fine job as well. Benjamin Bratt does his best to stand out but doesn't fare so well. His scenes are smothered with Katie's commanding presence. Zooey Daschanel is funny and witty as Katie's friend Samantha and the beautiful Gabriel Union delivers as Amanda (although I really wish she had more screen time). The ending was great and left you in a state where you knew that there had to be a sequel.

Stephen Gaghan's script is tightly woven and, while not exactly mind blowing and or original it manages to strike fresh blood; creeping us out as well as making us think. The only problem with "Abandon" is how it is a little slow at the beginning, and the scene when they are drunk or high at a party, I felt that that scene was a little too much. The film follows a very dark and ominous tone, everything done in dark color schemes, voice's low and images grainy, and that adds to the mystery bound to be unlocked. So, all in all, if you don't mind that the story develops very slowly, and that some things don't add up, then you might like this film!

Overall rating: 7 out of 10.
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Not the "sleeper hit" it was intended to be
FiendishDramaturgy23 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, this time-waster is quite obtuse in its intelligence. The characters wander around seemingly with no direction or idea what they are doing or where they are going...which is nowhere with THIS script.

The screenplay attempted to be clever and edgy, but it failed miserably and while the characters were somewhat interesting, regardless of their inability to keep a single coherent thought, they were about as deep as the bowl of a spoon.

Only after the entire first half of the movie, does it become even remotely interesting, and then...it stops being interesting and borders on pure drivel. The acting, instead of being dramatic, tense, fresh, edgy or even remotely scary, grows infantile and even campy.

I liked Benjamin Bratt, and I like most of what he has done, but even he doesn't redeem this "work." He couldn't possibly with the putrid direction he was given.

This is probably one of the worst movies I've ever seen. It is highly overrated, as if the cloned sheep of the world believed the hype on the box as a "...spellbinding psychological thriller with ingenious plot twists that will keep you guessing until its electrifying conclusion..." That could not be less correct! By the boring end, I didn't CARE who did what to whom, or for how many cookies!

It was unintelligent to the point of insulting the audience! The box also claims that this movie has "... pulse pounding suspense and riveting performances ..." If that isn't intentionally misleading, nothing is. This "movie" was anything BUT suspenseful and riveting.

There was one bright and shining performance in this cast (besides Benjamin Bratt). They were Melanie Lynskey (Stephen King's Rose Red, Coyote Ugly, Detroit Rock City, among many others) as Mousy Julie. She was a rose on the screen.

Again, the directing was atrocious! I mean it stank UP the place! The horrid use (and over use) of strobe lighting was obnoxious and just wrong, the camera angles and flash-backs and flash-forwards were distracting and demonstrated a lack of maturity, art, and any sense of style.

About the "twists" it promises? They were so predictable that we had it figured out about 1/3 of the way through the movie. So completely not any fun to watch.

Extremely disappointing.

It gets a 0.0/10 from...

the Fiend :.
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oboigh22 May 2003
I want the 98 wasted minutes I spent on this flick back! Thank God cutie Charlie Hunnam was in it or I would have fallen asleep! I also thought there must have been some key scenes cut to make this film more compelling but even the deleted scenes from the DVD didn't help makes this mess into a watchable flick. Ben Bratt--you quit Law and Order for this? As Gomer Pyle used to say---SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!
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Nice acting, intelligent script, poor plot.
rmax30482330 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers

Not much in the way of animation here, folks. Nobody grabs up a knife and slaughters anybody else. No screams. Not a drop of blood. It's moody, atmospheric, and a little dull.

I don't mind the absence of gore. Actually it comes as a kind of relief after seeing some of the junk now being retailed. What I mean is that it's possible to make a truly decent scary movie without an excess of makeup. Think "Repulsion" or "Psycho."

This one depends for its impact on the performances, which are uniformly okay. The Embry character is repulsively handsome. Benjamin Bratt is a most unlikely cop -- soft-spoken, polite, reads Camus. Katie Holmes is a puzzle. Yes, she turns in a decent performance but she looks much more like a high-school freshman than a college graduate.

She and Embry are supposed to be irresistible for vastly different reasons but certainly for they share good looks, which prompts me to wonder what constitutes good looks. The Embry character I can't really speak for, except that he looks like a cross between James Dean and Brad Pitt, and a heavy one to bear. Holmes has a wide forehead, big brown eyes, big ears, plump lips, and a slight figure. She looks about one step away from one of those big-eyed Walter Keane children, with the tear rolling down its cheek.

She's very attractive -- but why? How many millimeters of chin separate her from Zoey Deschanel, the most lively character in the movie? How many degrees of tilt separate their respective noses? The whole subject of beauty is a puzzle because we react dramatically to it every day of our lives -- discriminating against the plain in favor of the attractive -- but no one seems to recognize that we're doing it.

Well, never mind. Read my forthcoming book, "I'm Beautiful, You're Ugly."

The script is really pretty good. In one scene Bratt, the detective, questions a plump ordinary young woman about the Holmes character. The dialog is nearly perfect. The interrogation reveals her to be admiring of Holmes, but envious too, and slightly nervous. (She twists a string around her fingers and speaks self consciously.) Everyone likes Holmes, says the girl, and they all want to save her because she seems hurt. Her impression is not entirely accurate (Embry dumps her unceremoniously) but true enough for general purposes. Who wouldn't want to save a hurt child?

One more example of good dialog. The last meeting between Holmes and her psychiatrist. He's been objective and shrink-like all along, and finally suggests that if she finds it difficult to adjust to her new life after graduation she should feel free to call him. In fact, he might even call HER, and he leans forward, full of extra-therapeutic vibes, and places his hands softly over hers. The light bulb goes on. Holmes tells him sweetly that he's been such a great help that now she needs to tell him she can get along without him. "Thank you for making it easy," she adds. (Not bad.)

But, man, is this movie slow. Well -- not slow exactly but unfocused. I couldn't tell where it was headed. I wasn't expected a plot like an express train but this meanders all over the place. By the last third of the movie I began to suspect what was up with Embry, who is revealed as a stalker. When a threatening figure makes appearances out of shadows when the heroine is all alone -- and only then -- well, nobody has to draw the experienced viewer a picture.

The climax was, I guess, "confusing" is the word. Katie Holmes has knocked off Embry, who fully deserved knocking off. But what happened to Bratt? And how did Holmes wind up at a high-echelon job in New York, about to repeat her response to any man who rejects her?

Too bad about the plot because the movie has so many virtues. The direction is restrained and effective, the performances fine, the locations nicely chosen -- but the story! Like a fully-formed, very attractive human being with no spine.
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Better off as a one hour TV episode
Turfseer19 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Detective Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt) is the sad-sack protagonist of 'Abandon' (which should have been more aptly named 'Abandoned'). Handler has just returned to his assignment on the police force after being suspended (presumably) for a DWI or drinking on the job. Handler's supervisor won't allow him to use a squad car and wants to break him in slowly so he assigns Handler to a missing person's case. What's so unusual about this case is that the missing person in question, Embry Larkin, an artsy but rebellious college student, disappeared two years ago. It seems unlikely that a detective (even one who is returning after a suspension) would be assigned to a missing person's case (especially one that is two years old) since typically missing person's cases are not considered priority matters for a police investigation.

Nonetheless, Handler focuses his attention on Embry's last girlfriend at the college, Katie Burke (played by Katie Holmes). Katie at first appears to be a bright Ph.D. student who's about to finish her dissertation and apply for a high-powered corporate job at a successful consulting firm. After awhile, Katie starts believing that she's been seeing Embry pop up around campus. The film's scenarist, Stephen Gaghan (of Syriana fame), intentionally keeps you in the dark until the film's end as to whether these Embry sightings are merely figments of Katie's imagination or actual appearances by the former boyfriend.

The story unfortunately drags on much too long with Katie's fleeting glimpses of Embry. Nothing much happens in terms of the plot until another one of Katie's long-term suitors, Harrison Hobart, disappears. Katie's confrontations with Embry become more aggressive as she accuses him of having a hand in Harrison's disappearance. Katie is becoming more unhinged and starts seeing a shrink to cope with the disturbing confrontations she's been having with Embry.

Meanwhile, the clueless detective Handler has not been acting like a very good detective. Instead of being suspicious of all possible suspects (including Katie), he seems to accept everything she tells him at face value. As it turns out, Handler has been attending AA meetings and soon decides that police work is not for him so he hands in his badge. But just as he has resigned, he receives some important news from a crime lab buddy who informs him that a note Katie claimed she had recently received from Embry was actually two years old.

Before the film's climax, Harrison pops up at the college graduation and the audience learns that his disappearance had nothing to do with foul play on Embry's part (Harrison simply lost his way while hiking in a State Park). Fortunately for him, he already decided to walk away from Katie. But former detective Handler is not so lucky. He already had an intimate moment with the psycho college co-ed. Now that it's finally dawned on him that Katie has been imagining all these encounters with Embry, he tells her that he doesn't want to go away with her as they previously had planned.

Abandon's conclusion takes place in an abandoned building near campus. In a flashback we now see what actually happened: Embry got sick of Katie and told her that he was planning to leave her so she knocked him over the head with a cement block and he falls into a pool of water, dead. The same fate awaits former Detective Handler: we see him floating dead with a bashed head in the grimy pool of water along with Embry's two year old skeleton.

Abandon has some excellent cinematography, capable acting and a brooding score resulting in a nice, overall 'noirish' feel. But the story does not develop organically. It was designed primarily to showcase its 'twist ending'. Ultimately why should we really care about Katie, the film's antagonist? Does she really stand out as a unique 'femme fatale'? Not really. Sure there are a few good scenes suggesting that she's good at manipulating people (the job interview for example) but there are way too many of those clichéd childhood flashbacks suggesting parental abuse as well the aforementioned multiple 'Embry' sightings which slow the story down considerably. The same goes for Detective Handler, the protagonist, who never seems to be able to put two and two together. It's hard to like a protagonist who is so passive and pathetic.

After watching Abandon for the first time, I was forced to go back and watch it again just to try and refresh my memory as to the important plot points. So many of the scenes simply are not memorable; they tend to blend into one another. Abandon's story feels more like an hour-long TV episode stretched out to fulfill the requirements of a feature film. Had it been done on TV, it would have been much more effective.
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I was really disappointed.
fawnbrown22 October 2002
When I went to see this movie with my husband, I honestly was expecting something more interesting and, well I guess scary. I was utterly disappointed. It is a somewhat interesting movie and I would recommend it for a boring night when you have nothing better to do. This is more of a rental movie.
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Don't expect much...
Pookyiscute27 May 2006
You might find going into this film, that it borderlines being a 'B' film. Not that it's bad, it's just not very good. Katie Holmes, being what I consider a mediocre actress, should really consider sticking to what she's good at. Playing, 'Joey' on "Dawson's Creek".

For a part this size and with this dark force behind it, the casting really made an error in hiring Holmes for the lead in this piece. While beautiful, and not a bad actress, her innocence and small voice make her the wrong flavor of tea for the pot they were preparing. It was not a bad film overall, however there were times, when it tended to drag on, not make a lot of sense, and although I did enjoy the end of the film (especially the last fifteen minutes, or so), the rest of the time, it was carried a bit awkwardly. Only one part was a bit intense, while the rest of the film, was in my opinion somewhat silly. For some, it might leave you guessing, but I unfortunately figured out the gist of the end of the film, right from the beginning. And, while there is a twist at the end, it still leaves one wondering why you wait nearly an hour and a half to get to that point.

The writing was average, the lighting and set design was good for this type of film, and again the casting was off, not only with Holmes, but also with Benjamin Bratt, who played the cop investigating the disappearance of Holmes' ex-boyfriend.

If you're bored and need a good Friday night flick, and want something a little intense, and dark...you might find that this is right up your ally, however don't hold your breath with an outstanding film, because you won't find it here.
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Come, let's go skinny dipping in my secret watering hole.
jotix10028 June 2004
The way the young woman acts during her interview for the job with a big New York corporation, would have been enough to have her lose the job. It's obvious one of the interviewers likes her in more way than one.

Katie Burke is a mess, but she presents a more calm exterior than what's really going on in her head. The fact that she was abandoned at a young age by her father was a trauma for her. We watch her with her analyst, who also seems to like her. Then there's the missing boyfriend, who is into choral music. Katie ultimately attracts another man when the detective investigating the disappearance of the boyfriend also falls for her charms. All this love and attention she is getting doesn't seem to satisfy her.

This film has its moments. It's clear that Katie Holmes is a good actress. Stephan Gaghan, the director, uses her well, even when we lose the interest in the story. Benjamin Bratt and Charlie Hunnam do a decent job in trying to keep us interested in what's going on.
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Lousy from the get go; one of the year's worst!
george.schmidt4 November 2002
ABANDON (2002) * Katie Holmes, Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Hunnam, Zooey Deschanel, Mark Feuerstein, Fred Ward, Melanie Lynskey, Philip Bosco, Gabriel Mann, Will McCormick, Gabrielle Union, Tony Goldwyn. Arguably the dullest ‘thriller'/Hitchock rip-off in quite some time that insufferably drags on, and on in its listlessly paced descent no thanks to Oscar winning scribe Stephen Gaghan in his woeful directorial debut (oh how the mighty have fallen!) enlisting the yummy (and usually intriguing) Holmes as an overachieving college senior whose obnoxiously vainglorious poor little rich boyfriend Hunnam (late of the late great lamented tv show `Undeclared') suddenly disappears and apparently re-appears causing nothing but grief for her. Bratt is miscast as an alcoholic local police detective assigned to the missing persons case that becomes smitten with the young coed in the process. A truly wretched and boring viewing experience in which I can't recall how often I was praying for the film to speed up and eventually end. The only saving grace is the delightful Deschanel as Holmes' smart-ass roomie; she's the only life in this stillborn mess.
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Just as I feared: a cookie-cutter kiddie creep-out movie
chartrookie25 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'd been putting this DVD on the bottom of my "to see" list at the library for a few weeks: I'm no fan of Bratt nor Holmes but I like Drama, and a critic who's usually worthwhile had some positive comments on the cover. And I was out of other movies to take a chance on.

Wow. How is it possible for respected writer like Gaghan to direct a "thriller" with UTTERLY no suspense? Compare this to Michael Mann's Insider where he takes what could have quickly degenerated into a dry plowing-through of mounds of legal-scientific documents and turned it into an EXCITING DRAMA. Maybe after writing the very successful Traffic Gaghan had an automatic Green Light for whatever he wanted to do, so he hauled this script out of his own slush pile.

Actually the final twist itself was pretty good. (But then failing to see twists coming is my weak spot, or perhaps strength.) But that's a skill some directors have in spades: building suspense. It's certainly not Gaghan's forte.
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"Abandon" this awful mess of a film
rob-23617 March 2004
Slow paced, boring and plain terrible mess of a "thriller" has pretty student Katie Burke (Katie Holmes) "haunted" by visions of her former boyfriend Embry Larkin (Charlie Hunnam) who mysteriously vanished without trace 2 years previously.

Detective Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt) is on the case, trying to find out what really happened to Larkin, and pays more than a little attention to Katie in the process.

Is Katie seeing things?, is she crazy?, does anyone care?

The "shock" conclusion is lame and predictable and the whole mess makes 95 minutes seem like an eternity.

Its easy to see why this shambles went straight to video in the UK.

Avoid like the plague.
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Worth one viewing only
I liked this movie. It portrayed teenagers and college students in a far more subdued manner than normal and didn't animate any characters to the point of stupidity (IE Stifler is not in this movie and no one 'does it' with a dog covered in wedding cake). Almost everyone in is disconnected in some way and have feelings that do not show. It's a character driven movie that works thanks to delicate acting and atmospheric direction. I found the strobing scene to be particularly interesting, especially in retrospect now that I know the (pretty surprising) plot twist.

Katie Holmes, though not remarkable, gives her role enough life to make the movie work but still cannot separate from her Dawson's Creek part. Only as the movie draws to a close does she really provoke any emotion from the audience. It's a difficult character to play but she just about makes it.

The script is pretty weak but it's delivered in a deliberately empty way. We almost feel abandoned watching it. The movie is sparsely populated and makes us feel alone. It creates an interesting atmosphere that is the movie's saving grace. Without this edge it would be a waste of time. It's worth a rent, but only for viewing alone.

The DVD has Audio commentary by Director / Writer Stephan Gaghan and Cinematographer Matthew Libatique, brief documentary, Deleted scenes with Director's commentary and a trailer. It is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and is in Dolby 5.1.
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