Abduction, Taylor Lautner

<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>

Directed by John Singleton. Starring Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver.

But the protagonist isn’t put through either. He’s adopted and then he’s on the run. Perhaps the filmmakers were referring to their wanton abduction of intelligence from this exceedingly comical ‘action-thriller’.

Nathan Harper (Twilight’s Lautner) is the typical high school hunk. How do we know this? Because director John Singleton starts off the film with Nathan riding on the bonnet of a GM truck screaming ‘woohoo’, proceeding to a party with his friends (one of whom makes fake id’s and hands them out), and get drunk, ending up shirtless on the front lawn in the morning. Of course, if you get Taylor Lautner in your movie, you have to have him shirtless in some scenes. What’s the point otherwise?

When he comes home, Nathan’s dad Kevin (Jason Isaacs) has a boxing match with him while his mom (the wonderful Maria Bello) looks on. Then he has to do a school project involving something to do with missing person’s websites (why?) and sees a picture of a kid who he thinks looks like him (doesn’t he know what he looked like as a kid?). If that’s not enough the site can morph the picture to show him what the kid would look like when he’s grown up. Voilà, it looks like him, which means he’s adopted. Oh dear, his life is shattered and now someone knows where he’s been ‘missing’ all this while (they put up a website and waited for years with their computers on for someone to stumble upon it and then figure it all out and contact the bad guys). But no worries, his father taught him to fight, “just for a day like this,” as he says later on in the film.

Bad guys kill his foster parents as he escapes with his would-be girlfriend Karen (Collins). Now he’s on the run from the bad guys and the CIA (sorta bad guys anyway). There’s some sort of ‘list’ involved with people’s names on it and we’re supposed to believe that just a list of names enough reason for all the senseless killing. Nathan is merely a bargaining chip. And agent Burton (Molina) wants to use him… oops protect him. Guess whose name is on the list! Sigourney Weaver is Nathan’s shrink (why he has one, we do not really know) but then turns out to be a secret agent who tries to help him. Sound stupid enough yet?

Supercilious dialogue, weak writing and laughable plot twists abound. Director Singleton and cameraman Peter Menzies Jr must have thought they were making an amateur film when they saw Lautner and Collins on set. Because the cuts are so random and choppy, the camera angles so weird and inexplicable, you’re wondering what is going on here. At some points the camera zooms in to Lautner’s face, then Collins’ butt, then cut to Molina, then Lautner. Karen goes to get food on a train for Nathan and she picks up a bar of chocolate and says aloud, ‘I think he’ll like this.’ Really… I mean really. Then there’s stupid lines like ‘Our lives have changed so quickly,’ ‘I’ll kill all of your friends on Facebook,’ and arbitrary moves like Nathan smashing the bad guy’s glasses under his foot after he’s thrown him from the train. What?

Simply using a popular pretty boy like Taylor Lautner in a film isn’t going to make it fly. This isn’t Bollywood, Mr Director. Your actor needs to do more than just go shirtless and fight well. And his love interest shouldn’t be so dull that you want her to be thrown off the moving train.

There are points you’ll laugh at the inane lines and situations: “Sometimes I feel different. I walk around like everybody else but inside I just feel like a stranger in my own life.” Sounds like something an alien or superhero would say. And at the end when the CIA director ‘outs’ agent Burton whose name is on the list, they don’t even cuff him. He just strolls on to the car and then takes a call and hands it to Nathan (it’s his real father calling, but he can’t show up of course, secret agent and all that). So the list was what, men who steal ice-cream from babies in the park?

How did a wonderful actress like Sigourney end up doing side roles in B-movies like this, I ponder. Badly shot action scenes and lacklustre thrills make Abduction one of the worst action-thrillers ever in terms of writing, direction, acting and production.

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