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Gone: An 'Is She Crazy, Is She Sane' Psychological Thriller
Jill (Seyfried) doesn’t have the best relationship with the police. After being kidnapped and thrown into a hole in the middle of the forest, which she luckily managed to escape from, the police refused to believe a word she said and stuck her in a mental institution. Fast forward a bit and she’s out of the loony bin, dealing with anxiety problems, carrying a gun and taking kickboxing lessons. She comes home one day from her waitressing job to find her sister gone. Convinced that the kidnapper came back for her and took Molly (Wickersham) instead, she tries to get the police to take her claims seriously, but to no avail. Left with no other choice, she takes to the streets piecing together the clues to find Molly and her kidnapper, before time runs out.
This thriller requires you to suspend your powers of logic for a while. While for the most part it tries to be more of a psychological thriller, the moments which require Jill to do some actual sleuthing are a long shot - to put it mildly. The clues she finds as to the kidnapper’s whereabouts are either absurdly simple or completely farfetched. The latter in particular are a real crime since the kidnapper keeps asserting that he kidnapped Molly to lure Jill. If his aim was truly to lure Jill, the clues he left her wouldn’t have been so discreet, random and easily overlooked.
Also, the characters are pretty shallow. The police officers are uniformly incompetent or lazy or a mixture of both. They stand around looking annoyed for the whole film. As for Jill, she’s rather strange. She fluctuates between two states: one in which she’s single-mindedly obsessed with saving her sister and the other in which she compulsively lies to everyone she meets. The first is logical and, based on her own history with the kidnapper and her relationship with Molly, highly understandable. The latter however is just plain odd. We’re never given a motive or reason for why she’s such a pathological liar and it seems rather out of character. Would somebody in her nerve-wracking situation have it in them to lie so well, or keep their numerous stories straight for that matter? We’re told that Jill stuck to her story for the entire time that she was locked up in hospital. Would somebody who wouldn’t tell a fib to get out of a mental hospital become a chronic liar?
In addition to being a liar, the film also keeps trying to push the possibility that Jill isn’t really all there in the head, though seeing as it’s Jill’s word against that of the useless police force, the idea never really registers the way it should in order to give the film a decent psychological bend and keep the viewers guessing.
Despite its inconsistencies, Gone manages to be a decent, light thriller until the ending which derails the film completely. It’s not innovative and the film is very basic despite the attempt to give it depth. However, it’s rather fast paced and Seyfried makes for a very watchable heroine, even if her character makes little sense and is unworthy of her talent.
The follow up to Carlos Saldanha’s vibrant animated feature, Rio – a film that grossed over half a billion dollars at the box office - finds the Brazilian-born filmmaker returning to the pulsating streets of Rio Di Janeiro, before setting off into the wilderness of the Amazon.
Picking up some time after the end of the first film, Rio 2 finds the Blue Macaws, Blu (voiced by Eisenberg) and Jewel (Hathaway), happily married and living a carefree life while raising their three hatchlings, Carla (Crow), Bia (Stenberg) and Tiago (Gagnon), at the Blue Bird Sanctuary.
However, their children’s overly-domesticated habits begin to worry Jewel, who is fearful that her children are slowly losing touch with nature and what it means to be a bird. So, when she hears that there may be a flock of Blue Macaws living in the Amazon rainforest, the family decides to fly across for a vacation and a bit of an investigation.
Once there, not only does the family discover that there is more of their kind in the world, but that the flock is led by none other than Jewel’s long-lost father, Eduardo (Garcia). Jewel soon finds herself toying with the prospect of moving her family there for good, while Blu – who now must prove himself to Jewel’s apathetic and unconvinced father – isn’t too sure whether he’s ready to give up his life in Rio. Meanwhile, Blu’s lifelong nemesis, Nigel the Cockatoo (Clement), who is no longer able to fly, follows the family to the rainforest in search of revenge.
Eisenberg and Hathaway return to reprise their roles as the lovable Blu and Jewel and, although their shared chemistry can still be felt throughout, it seems that their second outing is not as charming as their first. Clement is hilarious as the grouchy Nigel, while all of the supporting characters, excluding Chenoweth’s hysterical performance as Gabi – a poisonous frog hopelessly in love with Nigel – aren’t given much of the spotlight, apart from indulging in a few impromptu sing-offs, including yet another cringe worthy rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.
Just like the original, Rio 2 dazzles with its vibrant and bubbly tone; the opening scenes of the New Year’s Eve celebration on the bustling streets of Rio Di Janeiro are breathtaking and Saldanha, succeeds in adapting the alluring and captivating magic of Brazil.
The story, unfortunately, is not as engaging the second time around and Saldanha seems to have sent the story on a downward spiral the minute he decided to step out of Rio and move his flock of birds into the back woods of the Amazon rainforest.
There are still plenty of thrills and spills, but had it not been for the infectious Brazilian music and a handful of interesting characters, this would have been a complete washout.
David Ayer, the writer behind award-winning Training Day and 2012’s End of Watch, ventures into yet another shady underworld of dirty cops with his latest creation, Sabotage.
Set in Georgia, the film follows the story of an elite, undercover DEA Special Ops team of nonconformists; ‘Monster’ (Worthington), ‘Grinder’ (Manganiello), ‘Pyro’ (Martini), ‘Tripod’ (Vance), ‘Sugar’ (Howard), ‘Smoke’ (Schlegel) and finally, Lizzy (Enos), who are all led by their grizzled Special Agent, John Wharton – a.k.a Breacher – (Schwarzenegger).
While out on a mission raiding the mansion of a notorious drug cartel, the team comes across ten million dollars and decides to conceal it, with the plan of coming back for it later. However, when they return to collect their hidden treasure, the group discovers that the money is gone, and the guys quickly find themselves under investigation for the missing money.
Months later, the case is dropped and the group is quick to return to duty, but things are far from back to normal. The mystery behind the missing money reaches another level of obscurity as the members of the notorious team are killed off, one-by-one. The murders draw the attention of a homicide detective, Brentwood (Williams), who begins digging into the killings, whilst Breacher begins suspecting that the perpetrator might be one of his very own.
At times, Sabotage plays out like a classic mystery-thriller and has, rather hastily, been compared to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Other than one seemingly long car chase and a few gun-fights, the story is surprisingly short on action, keeping its focus on the dynamics of the team, who, thanks to an overdose of bravado, are incredibly difficult to connect to, let alone root for.
Surprisingly, Schwarzenegger settles into his role quite nicely; his now ripe physical condition is suited to his character’s troubled ways, and although many would find it difficult to swallow the ex-governor as a rogue cop, he manages to sell his side of the story pretty well.
As part of the murky mis en scene, Ayer uses a type of violence more associated with a slasher flick and goes a little overboard – in other words, blood for the sake of blood. To top it off, the mystery, supposedly the driving force of the story, is sloppy and is met with one too many confusing twists and turns.
Bloody, vulgar and full of one too many shock moments, Sabotage is passable, but still an overly messy thriller, whose occasionally implausible plot twists suck out both the fun and the logic from its otherwise well-constructed tone.