Directed by: John Singleton
Premise: A high school student (Taylor Lautner) discovers that that his identity is a lie and that he is a pawn in an international spy game.
What Works: Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello play the foster parents to Taylor Lautner’s character and the few scenes that they have are played well. A story about this family unit in an action-adventure scenario would have been a much more interesting film.
What Doesn’t: Abduction is an off-brand version of other espionage films, existing somewhere between Spy Kids and The Bourne Identity. Abduction is too serious to compare with the kiddy entertainment of Robert Rodriguez’s family films nor does it have the intelligence or character work of the Jason Bourne films. In fact, Abduction does not even reach the meager levels of recent entries in the action film genre like The Expendables or Taken. It is a film without a vision and it manages to be remarkably boring. Everything about Abduction is routine and nothing about it demonstrates originality or inspiration. The film is very slow to get started and even when it does the film is rarely exciting. Its action scenes lack showmanship and the character’s journey from naïve teen to burgeoning superspy is not credible. Some of the fault for that is in the writing, which does not give the protagonist moments of choice or meaningful obstacles to overcome. But a large portion of the failure of Abduction has to be set on the casting of Taylor Lautner in the main role. Although this isn’t Shakespeare, the film does require a performance to sell the teen angst and the action, and Lautner simply does not have the acting chops for this film. The character finds himself in an existential crisis as his identity is revealed to be a lie and everything he believed about his life is turned upside down. But Lautner cannot convey any of that in his performance. The actor has only two modes: macho action star and weepy sentimentality. Lacking both the thrills of an action film or a strong central performance to wrap those set pieces around, Abduction never takes off past its initial premise.
Bottom Line: Abduction is a poor action film. While it might draw a few of Lautner’s fans from the Twilight crowd and ironic cackles from others, Abduction is an action film without much adventure.
Episode: #357 (October 2, 2011)