The Vanishing is a Hollywood remake of a Dutch movie called Spoorloos. Now, shame on me, but I’ve never seen that film, even though I’m Dutch myself. It’s not one of those movies that is that much on TV and I’ve never tracked it down. In a way it’s good thing now as it’s almost unanymous that people think this remake sucks and the original is a masterpiece. I’m watching this supposedly piece of crap from a blank perspective.
I must say it was ok. Not great but not as terrible as they say either. I read the original book more than a decade ago so I knew in large lines where it started en how it would end but the kept asking my attention and I was willing to give it to it. Now the plot is fairly simple; scienceteacher develops a kick out of the idea of abducting a woman, succeeds in his goal. Boyfriend of the abductee never gives up searching, but when he makes it clear on a talkshow that he does give up his search the teacher gets into contact with the boyfriend…
Now the part what makes it intriguing is that we don’t know what happened to the girlfriend either. We see the same last moment her boyfriend saw. For us it’s just as big a mystery what happened to her as it was for us… almost. We’re treated to scenes of Barney The Scienceteacher as he prepares his abduction in the openingcredits where he, amongst other things, times how long chloroform will knock someone out. So that and the back of the DVD cover give away more than one should know about the movie. Unfortunately this review does too. Well no matter, the search is intriguing anyhow.
This quest, unlike the one in the Lords Of The Rings movies, takes up only more than a half of the movie and could’ve been more worked out. The movies really jumps in time here. Boy loses girl, talks to cops and stuff, next thing we know it’s 3 years later and he’s still searching. He walks into a diner, meets a waitress who sees he’s in pain and starts a conversation with him. Skip another couple of months and we see him and the waitress having moved in together. Hello, I can put the puzzle together but a bit more backstory there was appreciated. It felt rushed. There could even be a montage, you know, one with an 80’s uptempo popsong. No, skip that, it would suck.
What furiated most people was that the ending has been changed into a more positive outcome. The original ended on a grim note, this one ends with a fucking too-cute scene with a punchline about coffee. That made a relatively “good” movie lose half a star. The end-sequence can be compared to the ending of The Stepfather; you know, the one where John Locke from Lost plays a mentally disturbed stepfather. In this movie the Stepfather turns into a slasher-like-persona stalking his last victims in the house only to be stopped by a character who was looking for him the second half of the movie. The point is that at the end our bad guy was transformed into a simple slasherfilm killer and nothing more. That also happens here. The last 20 minutes of the film have nothing to do with al the psychological thriller elements that the movie consisted of earlier.
Well enough with the plot, this movie nowadays has got a neat marketingtool. Not only does it top-credit Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland it also credits Sandra Bullock. However, since she’s the woman getting abducted she’s only in it for approximately 10 minutes. Can’t blame the moviecompany though, have you ever heard of Nancy Travis? No? Well, she takes up most of the time after Jeff and Kiefer but she’s not really a householdname so I can see why they credit Sandra. George Clooney had a bit part in a movie about Killer Tomatoes but nowadays he’s featured prominently on the cover too! One of the most desired men on the planet starred in a movie about killer tomatoes, the American Dream lives on in George Clooney. I just shed a tear there you know.
So you see, this movie isn’t as terrible as some people want you to believe but it does have it’s problems. Now I really should get my hands on the Dutch original…