September 25, 2011
Review - " Abduction " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: John Singleton
Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Maria Bello, Alfred Molina,
Michael Nyqvist, Sigourney Weaver, Jason Isaacs, Sigourney Weaver
Taylor Lautner puts the abs in Abduction, but not much else. The new
action-thriller is designed to help the star establish an identity beyond
his sex symbol role as Jacob the werewolf in the Twilight series, which
comes to an end next year. On paper, this story of a suburban kid who
ends up tumbling through the rabbit hole of the Internet into a world of
international espionage sounds moderately promising.
In practice, the movie is inept, the least competent effort in the uneven
career of director John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, 2 Fast 2 Furious),
whose uncharacteristic tentativeness suggests he wasn’t sure whether
he was directing an adult thriller or a Spy Kids movie.
Opening scenes see Nathan Price (Lautner), a loutish high school
senior, carousing with his buddies and attending a drunken school
party. He wakes up the next morning on a lawn with his shirt off (which
raised cheers from his Twilight fans), and gets a ride home from his
dad (Jason Isaacs) who, instead of giving him a stern talking-to, pushes
Nathan into a strenuous workout followed by an interminable martial
arts battle while a content mom (Maria Bello) watches through the
kitchen window. Okay, that’s odd.
It comes to pass that Nathan, while researching a school project, sees
his baby picture on a missing children’s website and surmises that his
tough-love parents may be frauds. His investigation leads to a home .
visit from mysterious men, and soon Nathan finds himself on the run with his teen neighbour and crush Karen (Lily Collins of
The Blind Side)
As we learn through jumpy cross-cut sequences, Nathan is being followed by a bad Serbian (Michael Nyqvist, best known for
his role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and a suspicious CIA agent (Alfred Molina), each vying to capture him for a
digitally encoded list of names. Employing an inexhaustible supply of cellphones, surveillance cameras and tracking and
listening devices, the pursuers fill up the dialogue with deadening talk of co-ordinates and interception points.
The idea here, apparently, is to create a sort of junior version of The Bourne Identity, in which the hero is on the move,
attempting to discover who he is, but in contrast to the model, the action in Abduction feels devoid of urgency. Explosions
rarely involve bodily risk; hand-to-hand fight scenes feel over-staged, and all the hot cars, chic safe houses and sexy train
compartments are set décor. There are a couple of train sequences that stand out, but only for their awkwardness: A squirm-
inducing episode where the young couple grind and grope a bit, but don’t go all the way, apparently for ratings reasons.
There’s also a risible fight sequence, in which Nathan hallucinates his father coaching him through the punches and kicks.
Collins, all long hair and open-mouthed bewilderment, seems sweet but her character is underwritten. Lautner, for his part,
seems stuck in werewolf mode –
teeth-baring, squinting and
chest-baring – failing to
establishing the emotional
foundation of a compelling
Still, it would be unfair to blame the
teen actor for not rising above the
material. Veteran stars look weak
here: Molina walks through his part
with a half-ironic detachment;
Sigourney Weaver, who pops in at
the film’s beginning and end as
Nathan’s shrink, drily intones her
lines as if reading off a
Whether the fault was haste or
cynicism, Abduction feels like a
movie designed to ride on the
back of Twilight’s phenomenal
success, with held noses and
paycheques all around.