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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 18, 2002

'Abandon' is lackluster campus thriller

By Jack Garner
Gannett News Service

ABANDON (Rated PG-13, with profanity, sex, drugs) Two Stars (Fair)

A lackluster campus thriller about a student (Katie Holmes) under a lot of pressure, who begins to think her boyfriend, who disappeared two years ago, has returned. Benjamin Bratt plays a cop. Stephen Gaghan writes and directs. Paramount, 100 mins.

Combine the disappearances of two young men with the pressures of modern college life (all those tests, the thesis, those job interviews), and you have the uninspired basis for "Abandon."

Katie Holmes stars as Katie Burke, an upwardly mobile college senior in this thriller. It's written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, who had better luck with more challenging material when he wrote "Traffic" for the screen.

As the film opens, detective Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt) is assigned to investigate the disappearance two years earlier of a bright, rebellious drama student named Embry. Handler starts his inquiry with Embry's former girlfriend, Katie (Holmes).

Katie is now a senior, and in the throes of her thesis and a big-time job interview. She tells Handler she has no idea why Embry disappeared. But she begins to think she may be seeing Embry around campus, out of the corner of her eye. He may be alive after all, and spying on her.

Eventually, another of Katie's more recent friends also disappears.

The cop on the case also has problems — he's an alcoholic and has to schedule AA meetings amid the investigation (a pointless diversion.)

Handler also finds himself attracted to the very beautiful Katie.

The filmmakers admirably try to depict the pressure-cooker world of ambitious college students — and have corralled an appealing lead actress in Holmes.

But "Abandon" is utterly predictable — the worst-case scenario for a thriller. Viewers spend a good hour waiting for the inevitable to happen. If you're sitting on the edge of your seat during "Abandon," it's probably just to stretch your back.

The central characters have limited appeal, beyond Holmes' obvious beauty. Katie is moody and her old boyfriend (played in flashbacks by Charlie Hunnam) is an arrogant, pretentious cuss.

Katie's zestful dormitory buddy, Samantha (well played by Zooey Deschanel), is the only vaguely interesting person in the film.

She's colorful, daring, sensual and funny. Let's make a movie about her.

Rated PG-13, with profanity, sex, drugs.

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