Katie Holmes as Katie Burke
Benjamin Bratt as Detective Wade Handler
Charlie Hunnam as Embry Langan
“Dawson’s Creek” seems to have placed a curse on its four leads. After a successful turn in the “Texan” film “Varsity Blues,” James Van Der Beek’s ‘Rules of Attraction’ slid poorly into twelfth place in the box office this past weekend. Joshua Jackson hasn’t made a memorable film since “Mighty Ducks 3” and I’m still reeling from Michelle William’s turn in “Dick”. Katie Holmes may have bared herself in “The Gift” (giving any males the joy they’d been craving since seeing her promos for Creek), but Holmes has been going downhill since that supernatural thriller. Her newest, “Abandon,” keeps her in line with her fellow Creek-ers; the movie is mindless and is set for the quick trip to home video.
Catherine Burke (Katie Holmes) is on her way to a cushy job, as she is a senior at an elite college, hard at work on her thesis and has great friends (Zooey Deschanel and Gabriel Mann) that she can always rely on.
Detective Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt), a recovering alcoholic, is thrown a case involving the disappearance of Catherine’s ex-boyfriend Embry Langan (Charlie Hunnam). Embry was the campus rich-boy hothead, who staged bizarre theatrical productions because he could. He vanished two years prior to the start of the film and his whereabouts are still unknown, until Catherine begins seeing him around campus. Catherine goes to Wade for help, but is Embry really stalking her or is the stress of school just taking its toll?
“Abandon’s” premise isn’t a horrible one, but the execution is dull and extremely tedious. During the many flashback sequences to Embry and Catherine’s “happy days”, all I could think about was watching a cell phone commercial (as they were rolling in the green grass, laughing and ice skating on the pond). Oscar- winning writer Stephen Gaghan (for “Traffic”) takes over directorial duties and does a tidy job. He steals a page from Soderbergh’s book; all the scenes set in the library are lit in a dense blue shade, just like the Washington scenes in “Traffic”. One scene, in which Holmes and her friends lie in a bed with a green strobe light blinking, looked like it belonged in another film because of the superior filmmaking techniques employed. The film loses its scary guise about halfway and from then on, there’s absolutely no tension.
The script is where the problem lies. It’s not original and there is nothing that invites the audience to like Catherine. She is a humdrum heroine that doesn’t merit any involvement from the audience. There was some unintentional laughter during the film’s finale because of the immense number of clichés that are piled upon the last thirty minutes. The ending twist that can be seen a mile away, but the audience seemed to get a kick out of the last shot of the film. The movie is also about twenty minutes too long (one too many flashbacks). The most appealing character in the film is Embry and he’s hardly in it.
The acting is nothing special, but the pairing of Bratt and Holmes is odd. Holmes still looks like she is in high school and Bratt looks a shade over thirty, which makes for a strange on-screen coupling. Katie Holmes can hold her own and carries the movie well, but the material isn’t much different than her TV show making her character not much of a departure from Joey Potter. Benjamin Bratt still isn’t sure how to play a leading man; his charm is totally lost in his downtrodden Handler character.
Charlie Hunnam, who shined in last year’s short-lived show “Undelcared,” throws in a stock performance, sporting an American accent instead of his native British. He isn’t given many well-written scenes and looks like he’s just there to pick up a paycheck. The supporting cast is impressive enough, but the source material isn’t strong enough to create any kind of full characters.
I recommend “Abandon” only if you aren’t able to get your Katie Holmes fix on the WB because this movie offers nothing more than a boring, rehash of her “grown-up” Dawson’s Creek character.