The pandemic has inspired some curious viewing choices, from tiger kings to a newfound interest in Contagion. The latest example comes from Netflix and the surprising ascent of a recent Thomas Jane movie, The Vanished. The movie received a pandemically-challenged release on August 21, 2020 to zero fanfare and quickly hit the streaming giant on January 15, 2021. Despite the little attention the movie received upon its release, The Vanished immediately jumped to the number 5 spot on Netflix.
The Vanished stars Thomas Jane and Anne Heche as parents who are on a camping vacation with their young daughter. When their daughter disappears without a trace, the parents are left helpless as they watch the local police fail to find new leads as to what happened to their missing daughter. Fed up, the parents take matters into their own hands, and as they start their own investigation, their list of suspects builds, and secrets are unearthed.
In addition to Thomas Jane and Anne Heche, The Vanished also stars Jason Patric as the inept Sheriff Baker and Peter Facinelli as the equally questionable Deputy Rakes. In addition to acting in the film, Facinelli also wrote and directed The Vanished. Since the movie only received a limited release and then went to video-on-demand services, the box office numbers for the movie are non-existent.
The Vanished marks the on-screen reunion of Thomas Jane and Anne Heche, who appeared together on the HBO series, Hung. But not only to Jane and Heche play a married couple in The Vanished, they have also been a real-life couple for several years.
As of right now, Thomas Jane’s The Vanished has a 15% on the Tomatometer, with no audience score yet. Justin Lowe from The Hollywood Reporter said of The Vanished that it’s “wildly implausible and improbably entertaining,” but most other critics were not in agreement. Jeffrey M. Anderson of Common Sense Media said “This thriller is built entirely around a twist ending, but the scenes leading up to it aren’t intriguing or suspenseful; rather, they’re aggravating and nonsensical, and the ending feels unearned,” while Josh Goller of Spectrum Culture called the movie “A trifecta of implausible plot, clumsy pacing and inauthentic characters.” However, Glenn Kenny of Roger Ebert.com gave the film three stars, stating that the film is not “as generic as its current title might indicate.”
Director Peter Facinelli has started to move away from acting and more towards making his own films in recent years, with Thomas Jane’s The Vanished likely the biggest film he’s made thus far. In 2018, Facinelli made his directorial debut with the darkly comedic Breaking & Entering. Facinelli has also written two films, both of which came out in 2011: Accidentally in Love, and Pick Pocket, which Facinelli also starred in.
Naturally, Thomas Jane can’t take on the full blame for the critical reaction of the movie. Jane’s career has seen its share of ups and downs, but for the most part, he has been a steady actor with some solid roles. Jane has appeared in movies such as Boogie Nights, The Thin Red Line, Deep Blue Sea, Dreamcatcher, and The Mist. Jane also starred in The Punisher, a role he twice turned down, citing his lack of interest in the superhero genre. Jane states, which was eventually confirmed by the movie’s director Jonathan Hansleigh, he was the only actor asked to portray Frank Castle.
But the pandemic is the perfect time to give a twisty film a try. With a solid cast that includes Thomas Jane, and a strange mystery to solve, there seems to be plenty of fun to be found in The Vanished.