Lionsgate // 2011 // 106 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // January 12th, 2012
They stole his life. He's taking it back.
John Singleton's Abduction is a lot of things, but awesome isn't one of them. Truth be told, what we've got here is nothing but a disappointing actioner ruined by an atrocious script and a solid dose of bad acting, led by none other than Twilight star Taylor Lautner, who really can't make it through an entire movie without repeatedly taking off his shirt. Yes, Lautner displays a certain amount of talent when it comes to performing quick stunts in fast-paced action scenes, but as soon as the dude opens his mouth, things instantly fall apart.
Lautner slips into the role of Nathan, a pretty ordinary teenager whose life takes quite the surprising turn when he accidentally discovers a picture of himself on a missing persons website. Suddenly doubting his own identity, Nathan decides to embark on a mission to uncover the truth, which quickly lands him in a perilous battle against a group of ruthless assassins. This may all sound a tad confusing, but considering the plot is one giant convoluted mess, this is all you need to know.
Many of today's movie executives and producers don't know anything about what constitutes a good script, and I truly wish most of them would take the time to read William M. Akers' excellent book Your Screenplay Sucks. If they did, I'm sure some of them would be a little more cautious about green-lighting flicks like Abduction. Singleton's wannabe action movie makes absolutely no effort to offer viewers a compelling experience, trying instead to fool them with awkward nonsensical plot twits and continuous pursuits, in a desperate attempt to cover up a blatant lack of story.
The man to blame for this disaster is Shawn Christensen, whose writing never gives the film a chance to rise above a level of mediocrity. The little suspense Abduction generates in the beginning quickly fades, resulting in a cat-and-mouse game between good and evil that loses steam halfway through. Although the first 20 minutes provoke a certain sense of curiosity that culminates in Nathan's attempt to confront his parents about his real identity, the resulting plot twists quickly demolish every hope there is for the film to remain intriguing.
The madness goes something like this: armed strangers suddenly storm his family's house and start shooting everything that moves, causing Nathan and his hot neighbor girlfriend to flee the premises. An odd call to 911 then puts Nathan in touch with a CIA officer (Alfred Molina, Chocolat) who knows exactly who Nathan is and why he seems so valuable to the mysterious bad guys. In the midst of all the running, Nathan runs into his therapist (Sigourney Weaver, Aliens), who's got a secret of her own and urges him not to trust anyone he encounters. Next thing he knows, he's traveling across the country to stay alive, followed by the ones trying to take him down.
The plot really is as confusing as it sounds, introducing us to a big intrigue that involves foreign terrorists, key political figures, and all sorts of secrets that can heavily damage relationships between nations and governments. In the end, both the truth Nathan is after and the role he plays in all this mess turns out to be so incredibly implausible and ridiculous, it will take you a while to recover from the absurdity. It wouldn't be all that bad, if you enjoyed some thrilling entertainment along the way, but Abduction fails to maintain any form of suspense. All we're treated to is a mix of silly fist fights, loud shootouts and the worst dialogue imaginable.
Which brings me to the performances. Action scenes aside, Lautner's acting is anything but convincing. His way of portraying emotion is laughable at best, and he continually struggles to pull off a serious face. Molina and Weaver are even worse, offering phoned-in performances without any sense of energy. The only one displaying talent is Lily Collins (The Blind Side) as Nathan's love interest and partner on the run. Now that I think about it, she should've played the lead.
Production values are fairly high, and the majority of the action scenes are shot and cut well enough to keep the film moving at a steady pace. Abduction (Blu-ray) features a clean 2.35:1/1080p high definition transfer boasting pristine image quality and a vibrant 7.1 DTS-HD Master audio track. Special features include a gag reel, a piece on Taylor Lautner's stunts, two behind-the-scenes featurettes, and an option to experience in-movie behind-the-scenes content.
The problems Abduction struggles with are very easy to identify and don't require an in-depth description. The acting is bad and the script simply doesn't deserve to exist. The experience may not have much to offer, but if there's one thing the film teaches us, it's to keep doubting Lautner's acting abilities. Sorry buddy, even your tights abs and brilliantly white teeth don't save you this time.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Gag Reel
* Official Site