First of all, let’s be clear. There’s absolutely no plot thread in this new Taylor Lautner vehicle that involves someone actually being, you know, abducted. Maybe it’s a lazy mistake, maybe it’s meant to be a red herring, but after sitting through Abduction, it’s my fervent belief that the blatantly mistaken title is just another ingredient in the satirical stew that makes this movie the laugh riot of the year.
I mean, how can it not be with lines like, “I just saw my parents get murdered – in front of my eyes!” peppered throughout the script?
At least, I hope this was meant to be a comedy. Otherwise, musician-turned-screenwriter Shawn Christensen has made a gross miscalculation in his assessment of what makes a believable action film.
The fun begins with us being introduced to TayLaut as all-American teen Nathan who likes hanging with his bros, riding on the hoods of pickup trucks while yelling “whoooooo!” and passing out drunk and shirtless on lawns, all while managing to not alter the expression on his face even once.
Nathan’s parents (Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello, collecting paycheques) react to his blank-eyed teen revelry by taking him out to the backyard and challenging him to a mixed martial arts match and then grounding him for a week. Nope, nothing at all strange about his family.
While at a session with his therapist (Sigourney Weaver, securing a mortgage payment) we find out he has “rage issues” (was it his glaze-eyed stare or his slack-jawed gaze that gave him away?) and that’s why his Dad is constantly jumping on his back and yelling “Fight, you pansy!” – it helps him to work through his innate manly man aggression. Okay…
One afternoon, while working on a school assignment about “websites” with his comely neighbour Karen (Lily Collins, daughter of Phil), he comes across his photo on a missing kids webpage and does the most logical thing ever: he calls the listed phone number before fully investigating the situation on his own.
Oops! Turns out that his phone call alerts an evil Russian dude (Michael Nyqvist, trying to break into American cinema) to his whereabouts and starts off a chain reaction of events that ends with his parents dead and his house exploded courtesy of an explosive device straight out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon (after a faceless henchman reveals “there’s a bomb in the oven!”). Then, he and comely neighbour Karen go on the run from creepy accented men in black as well as the CIA (led by Alfred Molina, purchasing a beach house).
Long story short: The CIA is trying to get to Nathan before the meanies get to Nathan because they intend to use Nathan to blackmail Nathan’s real father, a CIA super-agent, into giving up a very important list of names in exchange for his son’s safe return. Blah, blah, blah, the plot clearly only exists to give Nathan an excuse to show off his awesome Parkour skills.
Like Lautner himself, this movie appears to want to be taken seriously despite the limp action, barely passable acting and dialogue that veers erratically from the inane to the preposterous. As for wolf boy, aka the guy that Hollywood is apparently grooming to become our next big action star, he seems to use all of his acting efforts to concentrate on walking and talking at the same time. He’s as wooden as a two by four and has about as many facial expressions. Think Keanu Reeves in a coma and you’re on the right track.
Director John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, 2 Fast 2 Furious) shoots the fight sequences well enough to make you remember that he has talent, but chooses bizarre camera angles for the non-action scenes (one particularly uncomfortable make-out scene between Nathan and comely neighbour Karen features lots of extreme close-ups on their slurping teenage lips) and focuses far more on capturing Lautner’s pecs in the right light than he does the film’s pacing or narrative.
Card-carrying members of Team Jacob may approve, but this Bourne Identity-on-LSD won’t help turn Lautner into the action star he clearly aspires to be.