Gone (2007)

Gone is a psychological thriller in which a British couple; Alex and Sophie, who are back-packing in Australia, meet and befriend a charismatic American named Taylor. At first he seems like the ideal travelling companion; enigmatic, witty, generous and thoroughly charming. It’s only when they make the joint decision to deviate from their chosen path and trek into the dusty outback that his intentions seem more sinister and Alex begins to fear for his sanity and his life.

Gone starts promisingly enough. Through a series of clips, following Alex on his journey, the audience are given a glimpse into his initially lonely time in Australia. He then meets Taylor, who takes him under his wing and things start to get much better. When Alex finally confesses to Taylor that he’s there to meet his girlfriend and not actually enjoying the nomadic bachelor life as he first claimed, cracks begin to show in their fledgling friendship. When Sophie appears on the scene, Taylor expertly manipulates her into arguing with her boyfriend and ultimately doubting his commitment to her. He goes on to perform a divide and conquer operation between the two Brits and it soon becomes obvious that Sophie might have a fight on her hands as Taylor’s more sinister side comes to the fore.

Scott Mechlowicz really shines in his role as the magnetic but manipulative Taylor, honing the troubled bad boy shtick that he first showcased in Mean Creek and adding a harder edge. He looks and sounds so much like a young Brad Pitt that it’s sometimes distracting but he cuts a compelling figure. Shaun Evans and Amelia Warner on the other hand don’t cope so well with their roles. Instead of coming across as the sympathetic victims, they are bland, unlike-able and too easily seduced by their companions subtly disquieting appeal to elicit any kind of affinity with the audience.

Setting a film in the Australian outback should immediately make for a curiously claustrophobic tension but the setting is never really employed fully. Movies like Wolf Creek showed us the potential of this barren wasteland in horror but here it simply serves as the backdrop for one dialogue driven scene after another.

At times, Gone really drags, it never sets a consistent pace. The climax is exciting but at the same time, thoroughly predictable. It touched on several aspects of the principal characters background that I always imagined would be expanded upon later but they got left by the wayside and forgotten about. Another major drawback is that it’s not a film that will ever warrant a second viewing. It relies entirely on the mounting tension throughout so as soon as the audience has seen it for the first time or begins to suspect the outcome then it loses all impact. Watch only if there’s no more desirable option.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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