Some last-reel thrills and cathartic violence provide commercial oomph to the otherwise tedious thriller The Vanishing. Dutch director George Sluizer had the rare chance to remake his own 1988 Spoorloos in America. Unfortunately this version, scripted by Todd Graff, is schematic and unconvincing.
Film introduces Jeff Bridges as the villain at the outset, rehearsing methods of chloroforming victims and plotting kidnappings. He’s a happily married school teacher but with a Nietszchean complex.
Parallel story has Kiefer Sutherland and g.f. Sandra Bullock on vacation from Seattle driving past Mount St. Helens when, after a row that hints at possibilities of a break-up, she suddenly disappears from a rest stop. Sutherland goes crazy looking for her; the police don’t help as there’s no evidence of foul play. Fade out to three years later and Sutherland’s obsession with finding her has continued.
The ultimate chilling climax of the original is repeated in the remake, but with 25 minutes to go and with very little impact. Unlike the subtle acting of Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu in the original, Bridges adopts an odd gait, curious manner, and an on-and-off accent that are distracting and spoil his performance. Sutherland comes off as a wimp.