A wounded soldier awakens in a strange cube that tests his physical and mental limits as he attempts to find a way to escape against a ticking clock.
I know you came here looking for a movie review, but before we get to that, let’s talk about magic.
More specifically, sleight of hand magic. (What, did you think we were going all Harry Potter?)
Quick lesson: There is a technique called “forcing a choice” or “forcing a card”. It works this way. Let’s say the outcome of your cark trick required the Three of Hearts. Through deception and manipulation, you must force the volunteer to “choose” that very card. The goal is to make the choice seem like it was normal and organic, all the volunteer’s choice and no influence from the magician. If done correctly, this can have a massive impact on your audience.
Done poorly, and your audience might make YOU disappear.
Now, back to the review.
“The Abandon” (2022), even though it was apparently made in 2019/2020 from the copyrights I saw, tells the story of Miles, a US soldier in the Middle East around 1991. After watching a teammate and then his commanding officer get taken out, he attempts to withdraw from the area but is wounded. As he collapses, he is engulfed in a bright light.
He awakens alone and still wounded in a windowless, doorless room. The room occasionally changes orientation as well as play weird gravity games with various bits of his gear. The room heats like an oven and freezes like an industrial meat storage unit. Various words, figures, and numbers begin appearing on the walls of his cell.
Then he makes contact with someone named Damsey by way of his satellite phone. She is also trapped in a similar room. The two begin to work out where they are and how they can escape.
Yay. Another “escape room” movie. Just what the world needed. Still, back in 2019 or so, the idea might have been viable. Now? Well, if you can blend it with zombies, superheroes, and social justice, you might make it.
“The Abandon” left out the superheroes and the zombies. Oh well.
Let’s circle back to the bit about forcing a card.
See, “The Abandon” knows where it is heading before you get through the commanding officer’s insane choice NOT to take cover before helping a wounded soldier that he has already dragged for 20 feet. Oh, you couldn’t move BEHIND the brick wall you were hiding behind 45 seconds ago? Never mind.
The movie knows how it wants to resolve its story. Okay, “story” might be a bit much for what is basically a parable on how humans can be so darned inhumane. Especially those awful men who apparently exist ONLY to abuse, or to WANT TO abuse, women. Yeah, men aren’t cut much slack in this movie, even if one is the main, on-screen character through 98% of the runtime.
The point is that, even if you know exactly how you want things to resolve in your story/film, the trip there has to feel natural and unforced. An undiscovered part of someone’s personality connects with another, or even unconventional thinking by an outsider could spin the narrative in a new direction.
Nope. You get at least three math prodigies in this primarily one-man show who out think advanced intelligence. THREE!!!!!! Oh, come on!!! We had only two math NERDS in our high school. Not prodigies, but nerds!
We’ll ignore the fact that our main character just so happens to have a handy translation guide for the messages that seem to appear on the walls of his cell. Maybe the outcome would have been different if the messages were in a different language. Let’s also ignore the fact that our main character just so happens to connect with the only other person who could assist with working out the puzzle of the messages.
**Sigh** Let’s ignore “The Abandon”? No? Okay.
On the upside, the acting is fine and, technically, “The Abandon” is serviceable with decent lighting and good camerawork considering the bulk of the movie takes place in a non-descript room.
“The Abandon” is not a movie that comes with a recommendation from this reviewer. If you want to have a movie lead you, with fingers hooked in your nostrils, through contrived plot points to an ending that wants to be “Golly WOW!” but ends up more like “What did I do to deserve this? I coulda watched ‘Bio-Dome’!”, then don’t miss “The Abandon”!