Taylor Lautner, the star of Abduction, is a physical actor, not an emotional one. From his start in Sharkboy and Lavagirl it’s apparent that his charisma stems from his physical presence, just as it was with Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the day. Lautner’s talent lies between performing swashbuckling acrobatics or standing still with a smile and no shirt. Surely the lifetime members of “Team Jacob” agree.
Therefore, it should have occurred to the filmmakers behind Abduction that placing Lautner, a stone-faced performer, within a cheap thriller about the secret of his past and the true identity of his parents was a bad idea, especially if their intention was attracting Twilight fans.
Abduction in a Nutshell
Lautner plays Nathan, a typical American teen with a bright future, a [badly placed head] and a gym bod that’s totally legit because a) he’s on the school wrestling team; b) he wants to stand out to Karen (Lily Collins), his crush next door; and c) his dad trains him rigorously in boxing and martial arts, especially as punishment for misbehaving. Nathan loves his parents, Kevin (Jason Issacs) and Mara (Maria Bello). However, he always felt that his life is not his own, never sure of exactly why. Also, the kid suffers from a recurring childhood nightmare where a beautiful woman is killed before his eyes. Not even Dr. Bennett (Sigourney Weaver), his psychologist, has been able, or willing, to probe his subconscious.
Thus we arrive at the big “twist” that the trailers made no effort to conceal. Nathan finds his photo on a website of missing children, his mom confesses that he’s not her son, his “parents” get snuffed, and both he and Karen are chased both by international criminal Koslow (Michael Nyqvist) and his goons, as well as CIA agent Frank Burton (Alfred Molina). Henceforth the name “Abduction” loses all meaning. After all, no one is really abducted and the young couple frequently manages to escape from their antagonists.
Abduction is the first produced screenplay by up-and-coming scribe Shawn Christensen. He tries to develop an original plot, but it feels like his script could have used another draft. The entire project feels like film school thesis film. This despite being helmed by John Singleton of Boyz ‘N The Hood, Higher Learning and Four Brothers.
Lily Collins looks like a young Jordana Brewster from Fast and the Furious, but she has no chemistry with Lautner and has much to learn in cinema. Even worse, Singleton forces Taylor Lautner to show feelings he doesn’t have instead of exploiting his natural athletic talent. Nathan/Jacob/ Sharkboy doesn’t know how to cry and nobody wants to see him try. At least Molina, Weaver and Nyqvist made an effort, as did the “surprise cameo” at the end. Can anyone guess who it is without searching for it on Wikipedia or IMDb? (A clue: This person starred in another feature film with one of the actresses in this one.)
Action movies in general can afford to be ridiculous, poorly acted and even illogical when they are big-budget extravaganzas that never intentionally insult the viewer’s intelligence. Almost all of them have huge plot holes, but they are well hidden by the spectacle of explosions, visual effects and death-defying leaps through the air. Unfortunately, Abduction is a Lionsgate production. That studio specializes in commercial genre cinema made on a budget, so the film was never going to include such distractions. All the more reason for the movie to have had a stronger script and better performances to compensate. It’s a pity that it manages to be slightly amusing. That means it could have been better movie had the filmmakers tried harder.
Available on Blu-ray and the iTunes Store.
This review first appeared on the Revista U website. Click here for the original article (in Spanish).
Movie title: Abduction
Movie description: A starring vehicle for Taylor Lautner that fails to take advantage of its star's best traits.
Date published: 2011-11-03
Director(s): John Singleton
Actor(s): Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Michael Nyqvist, Sigourney Weaver, Jason Issacs, Maria Bello