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Movie Review

Super-smart, forward-moving Katie Burke is about to graduate from college and hook up with one of the most prestigious firms in her field. So when Detective Handler comes calling, asking questions about an old boyfriend, Katie’s a bit distraught. Old flame Embry Langan disappeared two years previously and Handler wants to know why—and where to. Katie convinces Handler she hasn’t heard from Embry since he vanished, but she’s not sure she’s telling the truth. She sees Embry out of the corner of her eye as she leaves her dorm. She spots his car driving slowly past the library. Then he leaves a note under her door. He wants to see her. Dare she revisit her past? Or is her future with the strangely attractive Handler? Is Embry alive? Is he a ghost? Or is she making him up?

positive elements: This is a bit of stretch, but Abandon equates hard work with success. Katie spends a great deal of time in the library, studying and writing. It’s implied that such behavior is responsible for her good grades and prospects for the future. The reason I say it’s a stretch is that the filmmakers really just wanted to place her in a creepy old building so that they can play tricks with her mind.

spiritual content: One girl makes remarks that she has been to a "snake church." There’s also talk about "hating God," but doing it "from your knees." That line is in relation to a religious song performed by a college choral group.

sexual content: Katie sleeps with Embry (seen in a flashback) and Handler. Both scenes show passionate clutching beforehand. Neither contains any nudity. Getting dressed for an interview, however, Katie flaunts her bra and panties for the camera. Sounds of sex waft into Katie’s dorm room. Early in Katie and Embry’s relationship, he gives her a hard time for being organized, informing her that he knows she is a virgin since "no one this organized has time for sex." Later, he assaults her, combining sexual advances with violence, pinning her arms and shoving her around a room (she retaliates by kicking him in the crotch). Katie’s friends joke about sex on several occasions (the banter includes crude anatomical references).

violent content: Embry and Katie alternately push each other around. He shoves her and pins her down. She kicks him. Embry threatens her, warning her that he’ll follow her if she tries to leave. Frightening scenes include a murder (a large stone is used to crush the victim’s skull). It’s implied that another murder is committed in much the same way.

crude or profane language: Two s-words. A half-dozen abuses of the Lord’s name. A handful of crude expressions and mild profanities.

drug and alcohol content: A party Katie attends features hard liquor and drugs. Katie and others down shots and get high. Handler ignores the fact that a group of students are smoking marijuana, joking that if they start playing Grateful Dead records, then he’ll have to bust them. Handler is a recovering alcoholic, who tells stories about his out-of-control past (he thinks he may have killed someone with his car, but he doesn’t remember enough to be sure). Champagne and wine also make appearances. There’s a conversation about abusing prescription drugs.

other negative elements: Katie’s psychiatrist attempts to lure her into a romantic relationship.

conclusion: A first-year film student would be proud of creating something like Abandon. Three years later, he or she would have progressed well beyond it. Scattered logic. Shallow genre derivation. Flighty sequencing and distracting editing. An abundance of blue and purple gels. A story-shredding conclusion (moviegoers at the showing I attended actually snickered when the plot twist was revealed). After the boredom sets in during the second reel, though, it’s nearly impossible to feel the suspense to come, much less care "who dunnit." These aesthetic deficiencies, along with wild partying, casual sex and motiveless murder, obliterate Abandon.

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Katie Holmes as Katie Burke; Benjamin Bratt as Detective Wade Handler; Charlie Hunnam as Embry Langan; Gabriel Mann as Harrison; Will McCormack as August


Stephen Gaghan ( )


Paramount Pictures



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Steven Isaac

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