Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

At this point in time, this movie ‘Abduction’ is taking an absolute beating, particularly its young star Taylor Lautner. It has been said that this film is plot hole ridden and makes almost no sense even in the nonsensical world it exists in. This is true. It is also being said that Taylor Lautner cannot act, lacks emotional range, and doesn’t look all that comfortable doing anything that doesn’t involve something athletic. Unfortunately, this is true as well. But we’re here to defend Taylor Lautner today, for one because we get no joy out of beating up on teenagers, and most importantly, a lot of the blame for this lousy movie isn’t the kids fault.

If you’ve seen the trailer you know the story. Nathan (Lautner), a studly high schooler feels like a stranger in his own home despite the fact his parents Mara (Maria Bello) and Kevin (Jason Isaacs) love him dearly. Then by chance… and we mean chance of an ASTRONOMICAL proportion… Nathan and his next door neighbor Karen (Lily Collins) get on a missing kid website and observe that one of these missing kids looks a lot like Nathan. Nathan contacts the site, a ruse setup by an evil foreign special op named Koslov (Michael Nyqvist), and now Nathan and Karen are on the run from this evil dude, the CIA, the FBI and the Port Authority while he desperately attempts to find the truth.

About that missing kid website device. That has to be one of the most ridiculous plot devices I believe I have ever seen. I recently saw a movie called ‘The Dragon Lives’ which is about Bruce Lee going to hell and opening a dojo while fighting alongside Popeye the Sailorman. That makes more sense. Nathan’s biological father has stolen something. Koslov, knowing Nathan is out there somewhere, sets up this website. The sociology teacher assigns Nathan a project which requires him to go this site. That could happen. As ridiculous as that is, the fact that it seems that Koslov is getting inside info, meaning that our inside informant already knows where the hell Nathan is, thus making the random website device even more ridiculous. My point is Taylor Lautner did not write that.

About ten minutes into this film, we realize that young Taylor Lautner, at this stage in his career, cannot act. Not even a little bit. Here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure director John Singleton and the producers of this film knew that coming into this movie, and if they didn’t, after the first day of shooting it became pretty clear. Now that we have that knowledge, it’s time to make some changes, it’s time to put our young star in a position to succeed. They did not do that in this movie. They put the rookie cornerback on an island to cover Calvin Johnson all day long, and he got burned all day long. Damn, I love football analogies. There’s nothing in this life that can’t be boiled down into a football analogy.

So what does Taylor Lautner do well? He can take off his shirt, and he can run and jump and kick and stuff. That’s why the kid had his shirt off like three minutes into this movie, and this is why the Singleton directed action sequences were pretty good. Shockingly, however, there weren’t that many action sequences in this movie. The majority of this movie forced our young star to do things he hasn’t learned how to do yet, such as show emotion, grief, love, compassion, anger… and he’s in almost every single scene in this movie. I imagine the theory was to cast Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver, the afore mentioned Nyqvist, Bello and Isaacs and have them carry the acting part of this film, because those are some fine, veteran actors, but with the exception of Molina, most of them are barely in this movie, again forcing Lautner to carry this movie, which we’ve already established he’s ill equipped to do.

Here’s what they should’ve done, in retrospect, to help their star succeed. More action sequences. When it came time for some kind of emotion, get rid of it and instead have him run, jump and kick somebody in the face. Preferably with his shirt off. While we like Lily Collins and all, instead of having her along on the road trip, substitute Sigourney Weaver instead. We don’t get rid of the love interest, we just leave her at home and get her kidnapped or something so our hero can save her by kicking somebody in the face. With Sigourney Weaver’s character on the road with Nathan, the requirement to show love is out the window, she can handle all of the heavy emotions, she can explain things to Nathan, who already looks confused, and as an authority figure she can point at somebody and Nathan can run, jump and kick that person in the face.

You see what we’re doing here? We are putting our young star in a position to succeed and this isn’t something we just invented. When I was a much younger person there was young star with similar, if not quite as egregious acting limitations, and his name was Keanu Reaves. Keanu’s handlers ALWAYS put him in position to succeed. Safety help over the top as it were. Let Gary Oldman or Patrick Swayze or Al Pacino or Laurence Fishburne or Gene Hackman handle the heavy stuff, let Keanu take off his shirt or look real good in a suit. And it made him wealthy beyond belief. Plus today, while he’s no Sir Ian McKellan or anything like that, but he is a much better actor than he was in 1992. You can learn some of this stuff, you know?

So stop piling on the boy. He’s just a kid, a few years older than my own child, and if anybody at Lionsgate had any kind of sense, they wouldn’t have put him in this unfortunate position to carry this awful movie in the first place.

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