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VINE VOICEon 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.
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on April 3, 1999
I had seen the original before the release of this film. I think it would make an excellent case study on just how badly Hollywood can mangle real cinema. Plot is almost exactly like original except that it has a ridiculous, hoaky, happy ending that was added to the end. The other annoying change is that the eerily 'normal' family-man psycho has been substituted with an obvious greasey slime-ball 'bad guy.' If you can stand subtitles, get the original, because this is drivel in comparison.
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on February 12, 2015
There is a blu ray limited edition out there from screen archives available. But this dvd is what most people will end up with. The movie is a remake of a great foreign film that came out a few years earlier than this one. Of course Hollywood had to have a happy ending. which that movie did not. That film was much more powerful for it's sinister end. This one has the great Jeff Bridges in it though. A master actor and that's a plus. As well as a young and excellent keifer Sutherland!. And it's not their fault that the ending was changed here. we need the watcher to show up and give us a choice of endings! The watcher is a marvel comics character that often shows parallel universe choices. Oh well. The blu ray looks much better than what we have here of course but it's much more expensive and you must go to screen archives website to get one. They also have 'man in the dark 3d' on that site and many other good movies.
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on August 17, 2013
Many of the posted reviews of this film comment unfavorably on Jeff Bridge's acting. His accent is said to be peculiar and his demeanor "wooden". I think the flat personality of the character is Bridges' attempt to portray a psychotic character, who is unable to communicate with other people. I am sure he did research into the type of character he was to play. Another criticism of the film is that it is vastly inferior to the original Dutch film. Very possibly it is, but if one watches it on its own terms, it has something to offer. The story is very compelling, even with the much-maligned happy ending. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who can bring an open mind to it. There is much to like about it, including that "happy" ending. There are good performances by all the principal players and the direction and cinematography are praiseworthy.
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on December 6, 2013
This is probably one of the most disturbing thrillers I have ever seen [ and my movie collection has over 1,500 titles in it ]… No, it is not more bloody than Saw… If that's what you're looking for, then keep looking. I don't want to say much in order not to ruin the experience for anybody but if you have loved ones that you would to anything to find if they disappeared, then this movie will stay in your memory forever. Great cast, amazing story, slow start for the first 20 minutes but a mind-bending finale !!! Oh and definitely not for the kids although not for the reasons that you might suspect or expect. You'll see...
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on September 7, 2009
I'll make this short and sweet. If you enjoyed "The Big Lebowski" and want to see a different but equally potent side of Jeff Bridges' acting, buy this movie. It is very suspenseful the first time around, and it is great to watch this movie over again for the comedic elements. The only shortcoming in my opinion is that the ending is too abrupt.
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on December 19, 2013
This movie is very good. I saw it on tv years ago. Its about a man that decide to murder someone. because he wants to know what it feels like. He picks this girl that has this boyfriend. The boyfriend can do nothing, but think of what happened to her. He does everything that he can to find her, but its his present girlfriend that stops him from becoming the second victim. A great movie.
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NB - Once again Amazon have thoughtlessly contrived to combine the reviews for two different fims on the same page. This review refers to the US remake.

George Sluizer's original Dutch-French version of The Vanishing (aka The Man Who Wanted to Know) offers one of European cinema's most quietly disturbingly anonymous and everyday sociopaths, feeling his way one step at a time towards murder. If you've seen that version, you probably still can't get the final revelation out of your head, but the film had plenty more to offer than that, playing with chronology, subverting the usual cliches of its 'Lady Vanishes' plot (the hero wants to know what happened to his missing lover far more than he wants her to be alive) and throwing in some excellent characterization. I can only assume that for this 1993 US remake Sluizer was so determined that no-one else was going to get the chance to ruin his film when he was perfectly capable of doing it himself, but few people could have anticipated how comprehensively he trashes his own work. His career never recovered.

Chief culprit is an astonishing performance by Jeff Bridges that has been overthought through in every detail to a truly disastrous level. A friend who produced one of his earliest movies noted that Bridges was a great instinctive actor as long as you stopped him thinking about what he was doing, and this film is the proof of the pudding. Every movement is overly mechanical in its precision, making him look like a rusty clockwork toy, while his voice is a bizarre mixture of Tootsie, Latka Gravas from Taxi and a Dalek who have all been taking elocution lessons from Dok-tah E-ville. No banality of evil here, just a looney walking around with an invisible sign over his head saying "Please. Let. Me. Kill. You. Thank you. For your. Consideration.'

But the blame really needs to be shared out here. None of the performances are good: often, they don't even look good - Keifer Sutherland looks more like a baby hamster than a distraught man at his wits end in the hurried scenes at the gas station, Nancy Travis flounders badly and Sandra Bullock makes no impression at all as the object of his obsession. Not that they're given any help by either director or writer Todd Graff. The script is particularly weak. The chronology has been altered to put the focus firmly on Bridges at the expense of the couple at the opening of the film. Worse is the rush the film is in, draining the life and character from each scene in its race to get to the next. Rather than the high/low mood shifts in the couple's relationship or the apparently casual but careful establishing of the feel of the location, we just get a couple of arguments that give you the impression that he's probably better off without her. As for the new and improved happy ending - standard woman chased by nutter in the woods jeopardy stuff complete with lame `let's end on a joke like a TV cop show' moment - best not go there... which is advice that holds for this entire trainwreck of a movie. Even a shockingly bland and uninspired Jerry Goldsmith score can't do anything for this one.
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on June 10, 2014
Seeing Kiefer Sutherland play an overall good guy after so many villianous roles is making me praise this film, I haven't seen the original yet and am very intrigued now. This film has so much depth and suspense, to me at least, that director Joseph Ruben of Good Son and Sleeping with the Enemy couldn't have done better. Jeff Bridges plays a multi-layered villian who only seems to want to prove something to himself all while using Kiefer's obsession as a weapon. Nancy Travis as Rita I went back and forth with, between liking to disliking, especially in regards to Kiefer/Jeff. The remake argument has mostly annoyed me to this day, and has gotten very cliched. To me, you can watch and enjoy both, if both are done right. After the American Funny Games though I have no interest in the foreign version, because that one just infuriated me, (not sure why, read my review under another username.)
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on August 17, 2013
This review is on the movie, not the DVD. I'm trying to decide if I'll get the DVD or rent it again. Why the hesitation? This is one of the scariest movies I've ever seen in my life. Knowing what's going to happen doesn't lessen the dread, the foreboding. Every actor in this film should get an Academy Award, especially Bridges.

What makes it scary, is that its plot can happen to anyone. Very much worth watching. You'll think twice before entering a truck stop, as a result. That's good. Never hurts to be too careful.
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