Directed By John Singleton
Starring Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver and Michael Nyqvist
Remember when Taylor Lautner’s name was floating around as a potential candidate for the new Expendables movie and everyone pitched a fit, e-rallying against it with cries of outrage? Abduction proves that he might not have been such a bad fit for the franchise, after all. Wait, hear me out.
Now, sure, Lautner won’t be winning any non-MTV awards for acting anytime ever, but he’s no less wooden than guys like Steve Austen or Randy Couture, who were hired for their wrestling and MMA cred more than their (lack of) acting chops. And the only major reason Liam Hemsworth got a part in Expendables 2 was to appeal to the teen girl audience (or, if you’re being extra cynical, so they could slap “Hemsworth” on the posters and fool people into thinking Liam’s brother Chris “Thor” Hemsworth was in it). Lautner hits the same mark, but unlike Hemsworth, he’s a bona fide junior karate champ with a talent for martial arts, eager to jump into his own stunts.
That’s a big part of what makes Abduction work as well as it does – like so many action stars of old, Lautner is a well-carved plank of wood when it comes to performance, and the movie around him is been-there-seen-that thriller fare, but he’s so willing to enthusiastically toss himself full-force into the film’s roundhouse-kicking, high-speed action that it’s hard not to find it at least a little endearing and impressive. It’s daft popcorn movie action fare, with all the plot holes that come with it, but Abduction is an energetic enough romp with enough engaging action to make this Tween Bourne outing pretty damn fun.
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High school student Nathan (Lautner) makes the most of his days with plenty of wreckless teenage hijinks when not being put through the ringer by his overbearing, ‘tough love’ dad (Jason Isaacs), who’s happy to kick the crap out of his son and encourage the same in return in daily sparring matches. When a school project leads him to spot his own pictures on a missing persons website, he learns that his parents aren’t his own and his life isn’t what it seems. Soon he and his school crush Karen (Lilly Collins) are on the run from ruthless killers and the CIA as Nathan rushes to uncover the truth about who his real parents are.
It’s probably best not to expect things like logic, sense or believable dialogue in Abduction. Right off the bat, even the title proves a tacked-on bit of nonsense: There’s nothing resembling an abduction anywhere in the film. It also takes place in a world where America’s most valuable covert superspy lives in an easy-to-find, incredibly unsecured house leased in his own name – a man who leaves some of the nation’s most dangerous secrets just lying around in an unlocked desk drawer along with handguns and wads of cash for anyone to find. The occasionally senseless, often clunky script doesn’t do Lautner many favours – even the more respectable thesps in the cast would struggle to deliver some of the lines he’s given.
Lautner was the most likeable thing in New Moon, but, in fairness, anyone with a marginally less unbearable character than Bella or Edward and any actor performing across from sentient statues Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson will always look good by comparison. Here he’s cast opposite actors of a far higher pedigree and, shockingly, doesn’t do too badly at keeping up, even if it’s just because they’re sleepwalking through their roles. Lilly (daughter of Phil) Collins is incredibly adorable, but her character is little more than than the token, barely-written love interest. Michael Nyqvist, star of the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, provides villain duties, but isn’t given much opportunity to be menacing. The ever-watchable Jason Isaacs brings a welcome amount of presence and gravitas, bringing out the best in Lautner, but he disappears all too quickly, leaving a paycheque-cashing Sigourney Weaver as Nathan’s shrink and Alfred Molina as a slimy CIA goon to phone their performances in.
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But while plot and performance aren’t exactly the movie’s strong suit, Lautner proves surprisingly capable when it comes to the film’s numerous action scenes. When it comes to doing his own stunts, Lautner leaps in with both feet forward (sometimes quite literally) like an excitable, eager-to-please puppy. Whether he’s hanging on the hood of speeding cars, parkouring his way down the sides of buildings or going toe-to-toe with shifty Euro-criminals for some martial arts brawling, he’s physically impressive and handles the action with admirable gusto. It doesn’t hurt that director John Singleton knows his way around an action scene and the well-staged spectacle makes for a pacy, entertaining ride.
Lautner fans will no doubt easily forgive the failings in performance and will be happy to know he looks as hot as ever and finds ample opportunity to take his shirt off, and there’s the obligatory teen romance to boot. Those expecting an intelligent and well-written film will be sorely disappointed, as Abduction is often as dumb as a busload of Jersey Shore cast members. Even so, while it’s mindless fun, it definitely is fun thanks to a rollercoaster pace and plenty of well-staged action. Lautner might not be in danger of storming the Oscars anytime soon, but he may just have found his niche as a teen action star.
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The ‘Abduction Application’ allows you to watch extended versions of the featurettes during the movie – the disc will pause the movie and cut to some relevant behind-the-scenes snippets, though why you’d want to have the film constantly interrupted is beyond me. The featurettes themselves cover a lot of the same ground as each other. They’re all behind-the-scenes features looking at Taylor, the movie’s action set-pieces and such, while ‘Pulled Punches’ is the obligatory gag reel.
There’s nothing much that’ll interest general moviewatchers, but Lautner fans will be glad that he’s on-screen for the majority of it and manages to be charming, coming off as genuinely enthusiastic through all the PR fluff that most actors sleep through.
Abduction is out on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK now.
Click here to order the Blu-ray from Amazon.co.uk.