Taylor Lautner’s Abduction ought to come with vomit bags. The concept is interesting and the action is actually pretty good, but this film contains romance and dialogue so cringeworthy that it would make even Stephenie Meyer blush.
Now, before you label me a Lautner ‘hater’, I’m not. Far from it. I’ve been ‘Team Jacob’ all the way throughout the Twilight fan wars and I’ve even singled him out as the star performer of the last two Twilight films. However, I’m not sure if it’s because of the overall calibre of acting in Twilight (that made him stand out) or the poor writing in Abduction (that he couldn’t avoid) — but Lautner isn’t very good here at all. Physically, he is impressive and gets to show off his martial arts skills (did you know he was a former junior world champion?), but emotionally his repertoire is limited to not much more than blank faces and heavy breathing.
Let me back track a little. Abduction is not that bad — if you can ignore the worst offending aspects. It tells the story of Nathan (Lautner), an athletic (and unnaturally ripped — yes, he does have a couple of gratuitous topless scenes) teenager who has a seemingly normal life until he discovers a photo of a kid that looks curiously similar to him on a missing person’s website. Nathan begins to question who he is, and before long the CIA and deadly assassins are after him as he tries to piece together the mystery of his life. It’s a great premise and it’s not hard to understand why the spec (ie unsolicited) script written by Shawn Christensen was sold for $1 million after it started a bidding war.
The action scenes may be unrealistic (they’re all practically indestructible in hand-to-hand combat) but they are occasionally exciting. Lautner looks comfortable running around and punching things like a young Jason Bourne (is it blasphemous to compare?) and the choreography is fairly solid. It’s a few notches down fromn Taken territory (most films are) but by the current standards of action films Abduction holds its own.
Super cast as well. Maria Bello is the mother and Sigourney Weaver is the shrink. The always welcome Alfred Molina plays a CIA agent and the original Mikael Blomkvist from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Michael Nyqvist) is the big bad baddie.
Unfortunately, Abduction is an obvious Lautner vehicle co-produced by Lautner’s family’s production company, and as such, the filmmakers felt they had to work extra hard at appealing to Lautner’s fan base — ie, teenager girls living in the Twilight dream land. This meant a corny, persistent romance between Nathan and his neighbour/childhood friend/destined love interest, Karen, played by Lily Collins (the daughter of music legend Phil).
Apart from a pair of crazy eyebrows, Collins doesn’t offer much by way of interest or excitement. She’s merely there so girls can picture themselves in her place when Lautner goes mentally overprotective on her (like Edward and Bella) and so Lautner’s teenage character can save her from highly trained assassin baddies. She’s a hopeless character and is cursed with some of the worst dialogue in the film. I am not kidding when I say I was writhing in agony in my seat during a couple of their conversations and I had to look away during one of the worst make-out scenes of all time.
And don’t get me started on the inconsistencies and continuity errors. If even I could spot them then surely everyone could (how hard is it to maintain a limp?).
At the end of the day, while Abduction isn’t a good movie, it achieves some of the goals it set out to achieve. Lautner got to be the main guy and the guy who gets the girl for once, he got to show off his bod and his martial arts skills, and as far as action is concerned, the film is more than adequate. It’s all the other crap that drags Abduction down.
2.25 stars out of 5
PS: Personally, I’m happy for Mr Lautner. He seems like a good kid who worked his butt off after he was almost replaced on New Moon by this guy and soared to become one of the hottest stars in the world.