Kiefer's obsession with Bullock
Chemistry teacher and father Barney Cousins (Jeff Bridges - Starman) has meticulously planned to kidnap a woman except despite going to ridiculous lengths of preparation he messes up. Whilst his initial attempts are failures he doesn't give up and eventually gets it right when he kidnaps Diane (Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side). The disappearance of Diane causes her boyfriend Jeff (Kiefer Sutherland - A Few Good Men) to become obsessed with finding out what happened to her even when he finds new love with Rita Baker (Nancy Travis).
Did you know that "The Vanishing" was originally a Dutch movie made in 1988 by director George Sluizer who when Hollywood decided to remake it directed the remake as well. I would imagine that most people or at least your average movie fan who watches mainstream movies won't know this or if they do I doubt will have seen the Dutch original. I mention all this because so many of the reviews I read from professional critics moaned that this version of "The Vanishing" was not as good as the original which it probably isn't but as a 90s Hollywood thriller it is okay if not remarkable.
"The Vanishing" certainly does a good job of grabbing your attention with scenes surrounding the quirky Barney Cousins up at his remote log cabin where he is practicing to kidnap a woman. We watch as he knocks himself out with chloroform, stop watch in hand to see how long it lasts and then we see him actually rehearsing an attempt to persuade a woman to get in to his car. All of which culminates with a failed first attempt to abduct a woman. But we also see that he is a dad and we have the amusing scene of his attempt to abduct a woman mirroring how he acts around his daughter when she gets in to his car. But it is not just Barney as the movie toys with us when we meet Diane and Jeff whose car has broken down in a dark tunnel with Jeff storming off after an argument only to return and not see Diane at the car. Without giving details away this eventually culminates with the disappearance of Diane.
What follows is basically Jeff's desperate attempts to find Diane which span over several years during which he starts seeing Rita Baker whilst all the time Barney is watching on until he decides to step things up by confronting Jeff with a very unusual proposition.
Now what seems to annoy people the most is the change of ending with Hollywood delivering shall we say a typical Hollywood resolution to this drama which for me is in keeping with the mainstream style production. It also makes it an acceptable movie for the masses that expect certain things from movies and don't enjoy being challenged by something outside of the box and their comfort zone.
The thing is that "The Vanishing" is very main stream and the performances are mainstream with none of the cast at their best but still delivering enjoyable performances. Jeff Bridges delivers the most significant performance by managing to be quirky whilst also unsettling in an eccentric way. As for Kiefer Sutherland, well this is no Jack Bauer character and more of the easy going Sutherland which dominated his career in the 90s. But it is a good performance as are those from Sandra Bullock and Nancy Travis.
What this all boils down to is that "The Vanishing" is an entertaining but typical Hollywood thriller from the 90s. It probably isn't as good as the Dutch original but good enough for the mainstream audience for which it was intended.