Gone in 90 minutes

Well-played and visually compelling thriller is ultimately forgettable

Starring Amanda Seyfried. Directed by Heitor Dhalia. Cinemark 14 and Feather River Cinemas. Rated PG-13.
Rated 2.0

After coming home from a graveyard shift at a Portland diner, waitress Jill (Amanda Seyfried) discovers that her 12-steppin’ sister is suspiciously absent from her bed on the eve of a big test. The sister’s boyfriend is clueless and thinks she might have backslid and gone off on a late-night bender. And when she grabs her well-worn conspiracy-theory portfolio and drops by the police department, the cops are dismissive, to say the least.

It turns out that only a year before, Jill wandered out of the deep, dark woods all muddy and disheveled, deliriously claiming that she’d been held captive in a dead pit by some barely glimpsed serial killer who has been preying on local girls. Trouble is, all the cops have is Jill’s word on that count. The investigation was inconclusive and the girl has some serious credibility problems, what with an institutional history and a rep around the station house as a bit of a loose nut.

But gone is gone and Jill grabs a .38 and sets off on her own to track down the missing sibling. Cue the ticking clock and plenty of red herrings as the cops try to rein in the off-her-meds Nancy Drew waving a gun around town.

Gone isn’t exactly bad, and it’s lovely to look at, what with sweeping camera shots of local scenery and the comfortably ominous pacing that gets Seyfried from Point A to B without too much down time. And the saucer-eyed Seyfried (Red Riding Hood) brings her A-game to the table and deserves credit for pulling a decent performance out of what is ultimately a very pedestrian script.

But after awhile the parade of suspects starts to get a li’l ludicrous, as damn near every dude she encounters in her investigation has “rapey eyes” (even the cops) and by the time the script throws in the good ol’ flying cat gag, it becomes evident that Gone is nothing more than a Lifetime channel potboiler padded out with a multiplex budget. There’s really nothing at work here that ties the film to the real world, as the cops don’t seem interested in the growing number of missing local girls, and random characters don’t seem overly concerned with just handing over their car keys to strangers.

It doesn’t help that Gone balances so much of its running time between two alternate theories of what might really be happening, and by the time the movie gets to the big reveal it becomes evident that there’s really nothing up the movie’s sleeve. Which is too bad. It’s a nicely packaged project that is pretty much gone from the memory the minute you step out of the theater.