Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
Five Stars For The First Half, Three Stars For the Second
on February 16, 2008
I'll start out by saying I have neither seen the Dutch film of which this is a remake or read the novel THE GOLDEN EGG that was the source material for both movies. From reading a little bit about the acclaimed Dutch film it sounds like the first half of the Hollywood version of THE VANISHING follows the original movie very closely but then the second half becomes more of a "by the numbers" Hollywood thriller with some action sequences and the requisite happy ending for the survivors.
I'm not giving any spoilers aways by saying Jeff Bridges plays the kidnapper, Barney, as we see him practicing how to snatch a woman in the opening scenes. Bridges looks the part of a Barney who on the surface is a likable if somewhat eccentric chemistry professor. For some reason the American Bridges plays the part with some type of European (I think) accent which is quite jarring when the script states Barney was born and raised in Seattle and at one point even shows his birth certificate. Kiefer Sutherland is quite good as Jeff whose life becomes an obsession filled mess after the disappearance of his girlfriend more because of a burning desire to find out what happened to her then pure devastation at her loss. Nancy Travis plays Rita, Jeff's new girlfriend, whom he meets "cute" by coming in exhausted from his search for the missing Diane to the all night diner where she works. Rita later displays amazing talents as a detective and strategist so apparently was way underemployed in her waitress gig. Sandra Bullock as the very pretty and sympathetic missing Diane is very adequate but does not have a lot of screen time.
The first half of the film creates Diane and Jeff as believable characters caught in a nightmare. The second half relies too much on coincidences to move the plot ahead and pop psychology as motives for the characters' actions. If you like thrillers this is an OK way to spend a couple of hours but it seems the potential promised at the film's beginning is not even close to being realize by the end.