Since Breaking Bad ended a few years ago, Aaron Paul has been struggling to find his footing on the big screen, scuffling through forgettable cash grabs like Need for Speed or mediocre genre flicks like Triple 9. And Come and Find Me isn’t anything special, but it might be a step in the right direction. Maybe.
The film, directed by Joss Whedon’s brother Zack, is in the tradition of Hitchcock’s innocent everyman swept up in a sinister plot, or similar to the paranoia-fueled 70s thrillers like Three Days of The Condor. Paul plays David, a graphic designer living with his beautiful girlfriend, Claire (Annabelle Wallis), in a living, breathing Pottery Barn catalogue. All is well and serene until David wakes up one morning to find that Claire has vanished. Gone without a trace, a note, or any explanation.
David tries the typical things: calling the phone, stopping by her work, reaching out to her closest friends. But nobody knows where she went. These early scenes where David is scrambling to find out information lack any sense of urgency. His search is low energy, and he opts to get drunk with her friend Buck (Chris Chalk) on what appears to be the first night she’s missing. Seems like an odd time to booze it up.
Nevertheless, the next morning David wakes up with a hangover and… rides the bus around town? Looking for her, I suppose, but still kind of half-assed in his search. He comes back to find his house torn apart from top to bottom and Buck standing in the middle of it. Clearly, something sinister is afoot, and the machinations of the plot begin taking shape. Claire isn’t her real name, and she’s gotten mixed up with some nefarious people who tell David he needs to stop looking for his girlfriend. Heavies come looking, David fights back, and it pushes us to a silly climactic reveal, the pitfall of most of these undercard thrillers.
Come and Find Me has its moments. Whedon knows how to build suspense, even in the face of a screenplay that has little to do. The action is staged competently as the domestic drama transitions to a straight up spy thriller. But there is an odd lack of momentum for the most part. Suspenseful moments have little pay off, mostly because the story itself is dripping with cliches.
The relationship between Claire and David is told in a handful of painfully uninteresting flashbacks. Their whole romance could have been established underneath credits and the movie could have gotten going with the thriller elements. As it stands, any intrigue in the plot is undercut by nothing memories. Their cute little moments spent painting the house or laying in bed aren’t that interesting because their relationship serves as nothing more than a plot device. We don’t care about their burning desire for one another, no matter how many cutesy moments we see; we just want to know what happened and why.
And when Garret Dillahunt shows up near the end of the second act, playing a shady government agent, you think maybe there’s hope for this one yet. Alas, convention continues to overwhelm, and Dillahunt winds up nothing more than a cliched cog in the wheel.
Aaron Paul is a talented actor with an ability to blend an everyman quality with desperation and raw energy. He would fit right into a Hitchcock movie, which would explain why he went for this one. But hopefully he can find something better suited to his talents one day. Come and Find Me knows its lot in life, it aspires to be nothing more than what it is, but that isn’t really enough to bother actually… ya know… going to find it.