Take a look through Taylor Lautner’s previous cinematic outings and you’d be forgiven for not expecting to find genius in this film. He was the titular Sharkboy in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, and had pivotal roles in such tripe as Valentine’s Day and Cheaper by the Dozen 2. When The Twilight Saga is the redeeming feature on your CV, something must be amiss.
However, for Abduction, Lautner teamed up with John Singleton, a credible director. Singleton is the man who directed the excellent, Oscar-nominated crime drama Boyz n the Hood and whose mainstream fare – Shaft, Four Brothers – still manages to entertain. He’s no Scorsese, but he’s a long way off Tyler Perry.
Abduction is the low point on both of their respective filmographies. For Singleton, it’s a grave disappointment; for Lautner, it’s par for the course.
The film revolves around Nathan (Lautner), a high-school kid with anger issues (apparently). He has everything going for him, with no discernable flaw other than not having the girlfriend he wants.
However, Nathan discovers that the couple who raised him aren’t actually his real parents. Soon after, his house blows up , and Nathan is thrown into the world of government espionage and conspiracy. If it sounds interesting, it isn’t.
Nearly everything is wrong with this film.
Let’s start with the title. Not once throughout Abduction’s runtime is any character abducted or kidnapped or even captured. It’s confusing, up until the point you realize the word ‘abduction’ is really rather close to the word ‘Taken.’
You’ll then start to understand how little of Abduction attempts to be original.
Abduction set out to be a vehicle for Lautner, who takes that vehicle and drives it into a brick wall. To say Lautner is a bad actor would be insulting to bad actors. He’s barely an actor. He’s a six-pack and a perma-tan and little else.
In The Twilight Saga, Lautner’s appearances were brief and shirtless. When the tedium of listening to him talk became too much, he’d simply transform into a dog. It was a winning formula. Here, however, Lautner is in every scene, his acting swinging dramatically from clenching his jaw to having his jaw clenched.
Singleton knows this, so in an attempt to compensate, he surrounds Lautner with actual actors. Jason Isaacs, Alfred Molina, and Sigourney Weaver: all show up for the paycheck and little else. These actors have been in commercial films before but never have they been as bad as this.
The story only works if you don’t think about it too much. Nathan is chased so he can be used to bargain for some government files, but then he has the files, but are they the real files, or is Nathan the file? Convoluted doesn’t cover it.
Of course, there’s the will-they-won’t-they-who-gives-a-shit romance between Nathan and Karen, played by Lily Collins. Lily Collins is like an American Saoirse Ronan: great in small stuff, terrible with big budgets. The romance is childish and forced. There’s nothing that suggests that Nathan and Karen would actually get on. They’re simply the only option available.
Abduction attempts to be entertaining. But bombs and bullets mean nothing when you don’t care about the people or understand the plot. Abduction falls well below the films it imitates. It’s nowhere near as good as Enemy of the State. Or Hanna. Or even the terrible Alex Rider movie.
The only reason you should ever watch Abduction is if you’re writing a thesis entitled ‘The Fall of John Singleton.’ It made money, sure, but since its release, the only non-Twilight films Lautner has been in are Grown Ups 2 and Tracers. I assume they’re both excellent.
Available on Netflix, unfortunately.
Written by Rían Smith
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