Tuesday, March 13, 2012

International Bad Movie Database: Gone

Gone is listlessly unconcerned with its own existence. It just doesn't care. The performances are boring and forgettable, sure, but it is a strange thing to experience a film that has absolutely no screen presence. I mean, I guess it's strange. I don't know. It's kind of hard to talk about a movie that takes absolutely no pride in anything it does. It also just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

The movie opens with a shot of a forest. It might as well. We then see a girl walking through this forest. We're pretty sure it's the main character because we recognize her from all the promotional posters. I think her name is Jill or something. So we follow her around for awhile as she drives home, talks to her sister, drives to work, works, drives home, wakes up, drives elsewhere. And I don't know, maybe she says some dialogue or something at some point during all that. She probably does, because I definitely remember things being said by someone, though I don't remember by whom or to whom or when or why. Oh, and then Jill's sister gets kidnapped. Or, I don't know, maybe she doesn't. It's hard to say, because the only reason Jill thinks this is...well, see, I wasn't really clear on that. Her sister just isn't home and won't answer her phone. Gasp? She's gone?

Jill's evidence seems to consist of the fact that her sister left her textbooks at home, which she thinks is weird because she knows her sister was supposed to take an exam today...but hey, you can't really use your textbooks during an exam, so it makes sense that her sister wouldn't bother taking them, and you can't answer your phone while you're taking an exam either, so it makes sense that she wouldn't answer it. So we're not particularly surprised when the police don't believe that Jill's sister was kidnapped. We don't believe her either. It just doesn't make sense. And besides, isn't it like, the law that a person can't be declared missing until they've gone unseen for 48 hours? The movie doesn't address that, but it's true, you know. But I suppose if the cops believed her we wouldn't have a conflict, so we have let it slide. I guess that's the conflict: Jill's sister is kidnapped and no one believes her, so she's forced to take the law into her own hands. That's what the tagline on the poster says: "No one believes her. Nothing will stop her." Except that first part's not really true, because actually, her mom believes her, and her sister's boyfriend does, too, and even an attractive cop buddy of her's believes her. So the conflict actually is that the protagonist's sister might have been kidnapped and pretty much everyone that matters in her life does believe her, but the movie doesn't want you to know that, so just don't think about all that Logic Stuff, okay?

Of course the main reason the cops don't believe Jill is because she's apparently CR-AZY! Hey, an interesting backstory might do this movie some good! Jill, you see, insists that she was kidnapped and molested by A Nondescript Bad Guy a few years back, but when the cops went to check on her story, there was no evidence to back it up. So they checked her into a mental hospital and declared her incompetent. We know this because she has a lot of Bourne-like flashbacks to the incident, and because the cops explain it to the audience in labored exposition just in case we haven't been paying attention to the past twenty minutes of the movie—which is probable. Anyway, Jill thinks the Bad Guy is back for revenge, and that he's the one behind her sister's kidnapping, not to mention several other recent kidnappings that have been happening throughout...er, wherever the movie takes place.

There's a couple of problems with this story—the first is that it makes no sense. Because “nobody” (read: all except two characters) believes Jill, she feels she has to take matters into her own hands; but Jill has no reason to think that her sister was kidnapped, and the fact that she's so adamant about it--and, by the way, the fact that she pops pills, makes rude remarks to everyone she meets and compulsively lies throughout the duration of the movie--makes the audience think that she is crazy, and as a result we don't really like her very much. The second problem is that Jill's character “arc” is pretty much ripped wholesale from the Millennium Trilogy—you know, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc. If you were thinking the story of “a seemingly unlikeable girl, who was the victim of abuse and molestation but who no one believes because she was declared mentally incompetent, and thus must take the law into her own hands when she finds herself in the middle of a murder/kidnap/rape case” sounds vaguely familiar, it's because that's the story of Lisbeth Freakin' Salander, one of the most fascinating and famous literary characters of our time. The fact that the film would not only rip off nearly the exact same story, but also several specific scenes (to mention them would be to spoil the “climax” of the movie and the book series) so blatantly is just baffling and wrong and stupid and lame.

Speaking of baffling and wrong and stupid and lame, let's get back to the plot. Except it's not really a plot. A plot, you see, has pretty specific requirements to be called such a thing. There has to be a beginning, and then rising action, and then a climax, and then falling action. See a plot is kind of supposed to look like this:

But the plot of Gone kind of looks like this:

Which is to say that this is a movie in which nothing happens. After the initial nonsensical "set-up," there is no rising action or tension or climax. Jill puts on her detective cap and starts following any lead she finds. Now, that would insinuate that she finds a few false leads and dead ends, perhaps leading to twists or obstacles for our protagonist to overcome. Let's me very clear in saying that is not at all the case. Every lead takes this chick exactly where she needs to go in order for the plot to progress, and once she gets there, she will meet a character that will tell her exactly where to go next. The entire "rising action" and indeed the climax of this movie consists of her finding a person based on a clue she found from the last person she talked to, telling that person a lie to get him/her to tell her what she needs, and then going where he/she told her to go. Now the "climax" is a little different, because this time she's talking on the phone! And who's on the other line, you ask? Well someone who may or may not be the killer, of course! But we are no more invested in this scene than we were in the other scenes, because everything up to and including this point in the movie has worked out as perfectly as possible for Jill. At one point the cops almost find her hiding in the bathroom of a hardware store!...but she escapes off-camera with absolutely no trouble. At one point the cops almost chase her!...but Jill gets away before a "chase scene" could properly begin. The movie boringly decides to sidestep any potential action scene or suspense, giving us a character with no obstacles to overcome, no likeable personality traits and a goal that we don't fully understand or believe in. We have no doubt that everything in this supposed "climax" will work out perfectly fine as it has the whole rest of the movie, and indeed it does. Oh and the resolution? Well, it's terrible--in fact it's awful--in fact it's worse than the Terrible Awful that the maid from The Help always talked about (although it is, in fact, crap). It happens out of nowhere, through events that are entirely out of our character's control, and renders most of the whole movie pointless.

But let's do talk about the characters for a minute for kicks and giggles; or rather, I should say, let's talk about the vacuous, lethargic, NyQuil-addicted  mannequins that appear on screen and say lines that were written by a committee of doubtlessly similar vacuous, lethargic, NyQuil-addicted  mannequins. At no point in this movie do any of the actors appear to care about or believe in what they are doing. Here are a few highlights from the movie's "dramatic moments."

Boy, these guys sure look like the could use a nap, huh? They all just look sick and tired and vaguely ticked off all the time. All. The. Time. See, those are just images, but Gone is one of them moving picture shows, and if staring at bored, sickly-looking people read lifeless dialogue and go through the motions of a truly awful story doesn't sound appealing to you, then you, my friend, are a thinking human being with a brain that works.