Abduction Directed by: John Singleton Cast: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Nyqvist Running Time: 1 hr 46 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: September 23, 2011
PLOT: A high school kid (Lautner) sets out to uncover the truth about his life after finding his baby photo on a missing persons website. He soon realizes that his parents are not who they seem, and that he's being sought after by an international terrorist (Nyqvist) and the CIA.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Abduction's prime targets of date-night teenagers will likely be bored by the weak action and dreadfully slow lulls throughout. Those who simply like to look at Lautner will consider this Oscar-worthy. In reality, this is definitely a movie "For Your Consideration" during Razzie-season.
EXPECTATIONS: Lautner's not the most immediate choice I'd make when casting an action movie lead, but there's always a possibility for surprise. That hope was certainly dampened some when Abduction was stubbornly not screened for press. Never a good sign.
Taylor Lautner as Nathan: Abduction makes Nathan into an awkward character, less because he lacks social skills, but because Lautner lacks acting skills. There's no way someone with such a "revered" body like that could be so hopeless with the opposite sex in a real high school. He delivers his dialogue with little cadence, and every word seems to just trickle out of his stone expressions. And with his big nose and squinty eyes, I don’t get what’s the big deal about Lautner and “hunky” potential, other than his biceps. Maybe I just don’t find bad acting to be attractive. Score: 2
Lily Collins as Karen: Collins’ character has no reason in this movie other to be extra baggage, to be carried around by Nathan throughout his journey so that he can … keep her away from others? Finding sweetness in this relationship is like saying an allegiance between a dog to his chew toy is sweet. Score: 2
Alfred Molina as Burton: In the fireball disaster of Abduction, Molina might be the one who crawls out of this wreckage with the most body parts in tact, but it's not by much. As a questionable CIA mentor to Nathan, Molina doesn't screw up his scenes too much, and even has an OK sitdown scene with Nathan at a diner. Score: 4
Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Bennett: Weaver takes her duty as monitor of Nathan a tad too seriously, and instead delivers her dialogue like a GPS voice trying to guide her liability in the right directions. She's only in a couple of scenes, but it's as if she's competing with Lautner as to who can give the flattest line-readings possible. With her impression of the computer voice from Radiohead's "Fitter Happier," she surprisingly beats Lautner. Score: 3
Michael Nyqvist as Nikola Koslow: Nyqvist once worked alongside legendary character Lisbeth Salander in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. But now his bumbling super-assassin isn’t even worthy of one of her “reverse sexual harassment” punishments. Koslow’s murmuring that he’ll kill Nathan’s Facebook friends is a new low for assassins, and would probably make Alan Rickman's character in Die Hard shed a tear if he ever heard it. Score: 2
TALKING: Abduction has dialogue ADD, as whole interactions between characters will abruptly change subject matter and seriousness within seconds. Each type of conversation, whether it’s something as serious as Nathan’s fake parents being murdered or as non-serious his friend making the fake IDs, is usually given as minimal dialogue as possible, to make things as simple and direct for Abduction's pre-SAT audience to understand. Score: 2
SIGHTS: Restraining itself to a pretty harmless PG-13, the action of Abduction is bloodless, even when people are being sniped out or having their faces turned into punching bags (which doesn’t even happen that often). "Goofiest Art Direction Of the Year" might have to go to Abduction for the bedrooms of Nathan and Karen alone. Apparently, Nathan LOVES motorcycles, and Karen LOVES butterflies. Their rooms make them seem even more juvenile than they actually are. It's like Nina Sayers' collection of teddy bears in Black Swan, but with an effect that's not intentional. Score: 3
SOUNDS: Reminding us that this whole movie has been a true train wreck with a whiny lead at the center of its sucktitude, sh*tty adult pop band Train sings an inane song called “To Be Loved." This forgettable piece of cheese closes out the movie with remarkably dull lyrics like “No, don’t go, I’ll show, you what it’s like to be loved.” The Abduction soundtrack is fueled by distorted riffing guitars that search for thematic tension, but only find dull one-man-jams in the process. Score: 3
BEST SCENE: Nyqvist’s line in which he threatens to kill all of Lautner’s Facebook friends hurls Ab-duction into Razzie territory with a single toss. My girlfriend liked the kissing scene on the train, which lasts about twenty seconds. It seemed to be the only time she didn’t regret sitting down for Abduction. So ... there’s that.
ENDING: Nathan gets over his daddy drama pretty quickly, acquires a new mommy like she’s going to be his tutor, and then limps away to an awful Train-wreck of a fist-pumping love song.
QUESTIONS: Why is this movie so open with teenage drinking, but is then so squeaky clean with its action? Did Nathan’s friend just say he “jacked” the car from an elderly woman? Why would Nathan send Karen to get the food on the train when they were still being chased, clearly that’s a violation of the buddy system? How does Nathan sneak into Pirates Stadium twice, and place a gun there the first time? Why would no one see a VIP ticket stuck to a famous statue’s foot? At what point in the production did everyone realize that this movie completely sucks?
REWATCHABILITY: Maybe after I shake this movie off of me for a while I’ll be able to give it another giggling look. But Abduction is so bad and poorly executed it kind of makes my head spin. Hopefully my brain won't be in so much turmoil by the time I (possibly) toss this on my “TOP 7 Worst Films of 2011” list.
Muscles alone do not make an action star, despite Lautner’s dependence on his oft-focused biceps to distract us from his bad acting and underwhelming action moments. Lautner’s just made another piece of effeminate fantasy (like … Twilight). The young, wannabe-blockbusting actor's intentions to break out of a pure "hunky" shell would actually have been better off without Abduction.
Even when he’s being pursued by two different parties of people who are both wearing black and carrying guns, Abduction lacks an important sense of danger to its “thriller” intentions. Nathan’s journey might consist of a lot of running, but he’s pretty safe so long as his idiocy doesn’t get the best of him. Thus, his ignorant disregard of the buddy system, his brilliant idea to walk down an open road to avoid the CIA, and his silly slide down an escalator roof at Pirates Stadium, all remind us that he’s more likely to hurt himself than actually be harmed by bad guys. Teenagers are dumb, but not Abduction dumb.
Abduction completely misfires due to its confusion of what masculine elements construct a true action hero. If Fabio ever had his own action movie, it would be a lot like Abduction – a cinematic mistake more focused on primping a vacant meat slab's fantastical image than engineering a single thrilling (or smart) sequence.
FINAL SCORE: 2/10