Movie Review: “Abduction”

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 8:00 am.

(Photo: Courtesy Lionsgate)

Summary: A constantly shirtless teenager, Nathan Price (Taylor Lautner), feels lost in his perfect suburban world.  After some web searches, he discovers his parents are not who he thought they were.  Soon after, they are murdered and Nathan is unable to trust anyone.  Dragging along a random neighbor who he’s had a crush on for years, Nathan is on the run from the CIA and a band of bad men.

Review: Let’s start here: Taylor Lautner was paid 7.5 million for his first starring role in Abduction.  The early reviews are as bad as Catwoman, but the John Singleton-directed film is not for critics — or anyone who isn’t female and under the age of 18. The action flick is catering to a very specific audience and it isn’t me – and it probably isn’t people who read film reviews.  Who knows if the film will resonate with his core audience, but if it does Team Jacob could have an official hit.

Abduction is a below average film, but it’s exactly the type of movie Lautner should be pumping out at this point in his career — a junkfood movie that is all candy and no meat.  Motorcycles, pool parties, underage drinking and cheerleaders are the film’s main ingredients — then the teen dreams are suddenly pretty people with problems.  Yes, it’s terribly unoriginal and is at the bottom of the barrel of other films that have done this much better — but what do audiences expect from Lautner?  The pretty boy got his start in Twilight, which is no cinematic masterpiece.  Does Abduction suck? Yes! Does it matter? No!

Thankfully, Lautner does has a strong presence on-screen and it’s possible the 19-year-old could have a career in the likes of Johnny Depp or Keanu Reeves (two actors who began in films that weren’t loved by the critics).  When he is ready, he will need a film that can showcase his talent beyond his bone structure and torso.

Within the first 15 minutes Lautner is half-naked — the Oscar nominated John Singleton clearly knows what his fans want. About 15 minutes later he is kicking butt and saving a damsel in distress. A shirtless hero? He could be on the cover of a Fabio romantic novel.

The dialogue is utterly painful, pulverizing any acting skills the cast might have. Even the legendary Sigourney Weaver, who plays a therapist with a secret, can’t make her one-liners digestible. Then there is the chemistry between Lautner and his love interest, played by Lily Collins, which is comical and uncomfortable. Collins’ character has no depth as the one-dimensional stock pretty girl.

The premise would’ve worked with a stronger script: a boy on the run after the people who he thought were his parents are undercover agents and brutally murdered.  Again, this could have doable in the way of Taken.  But why develop a tight script when you have Lautner?

I wouldn’t know Abduction was a John Singleton film unless you told me.  There is no grit or signature raw energy that Singleton is known for.  Yes, when the action sequences kick-in, the movie is enjoyable. Lautner, who did most of his own stunts, was believable and commanding.  But, all of the moments in between the action (soft kisses, long stares and whiny dialogue)  were dreadful. Only other plus: while the leads are not people of color, John Singleton had a refreshing diverse supporting cast: Antonique Smith (Notorious), Denzel Whitaker (The Great Debaters) and others.

Overall, this genre film is for the tweens and teens, but Abduction is destined to live in the discount DVD bin along another 2011 action dud – Colombiana.

Abduction is in theaters today.

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