Abduction is one of the worst action thrillers I have ever seen.
Directed by John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood), the story is about teenager Nathan (Taylor Lautner), who realizes that his parents aren’t his real parents when he recognizes his own face on a missing persons website. Boom! Next thing we know a Russian terrorist has planted a bomb in his oven, murdered his fake parents and he is being chased by the FBI. He is suddenly metamorphosized into a teen Tom Cruise. I wish.
The biggest problem with Abduction is that it assumes its target teen audience are a bunch of idiots. Instead of the plot being a woven tapestry of suspense, intrigue and intelligence every situation seems to happen out pure convenience for the story. Written by new comer Shawn Christensen the script is plagued with cliché after cliché.
Let me put this into context. Nathan and Karen (his love-interest played by Lilly Collins) are trying to cross a river without being detected by the FBI helicopters that are rapidly closing in. There is a very brief moment of tension when we think all is lost as the couple look hopelessly at the vast expanse of open river that leaves no place for them to hide… game over right? Wrong. Lucky for them a big pile of floating logs conveniently bobs past just at the right moment and shields them from view. Phew!
The films casting was a tad questionable. Although it seemed logical after the success of the Twilight Saga that Lautner should headline as the leading star in his own movie, the rest of the cast, although talented, are painfully misplaced within the film. The premise is based on identity, but how this dark, chiselled, smouldering Latino looking teenage guy, manages to live seventeen years without noticing that his fair, Caucasian parents look nothing like him is just inconceivable. If we can’t count on the hero to pick up on this, how can we realistically expect him to defeat a terrorist group and outwit the FBI?
Then there is the disappointing lack of chemistry between the two young leads, Lautner and Collins. Lots of doe-eyed locker lingering and implied sexual tension. (Munch munch munch… this was the point I dived into my popcorn!) Every encounter felt contrived and predictable. And if there was any chemistry it was shunted by the clunky, cringe-tastic dialogue.
Acting legend Sigourney Weaver surely can’t be this desperate. Although I do believe she is well cast as an ass-kicking matriarchal psychologist it is difficult to decipher why she found the character of Dr Bennett appealing. There is a hilarious moment when she turns up in the middle of the night at a hospital to save Nathan from the bad guys with half a dozen balloons. Balloons? Despite being against the clock I am very surprised she had time to find a gift shop after dark. Unless she already had bought the balloons for a sick relative but had not delivered them yet. Yes, the teen audience will certainly invent a justification, nawwwwt!
Koslow, the movie’s resident Russian bad guy is played by Swedish star Michael Nyqvist (The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo). A Russian villain… Not that old chestnut. There seems to be no valid reason why the Russians got involved in this movie except for the fact that the writer thought they seemed like a convincing scapegoat.
Despite casting, plot and dialogue the film’s pacing keeps the audience engaged. I was appalled yet mildly entertained. Despite the issues I have mentioned above, the film had the swagger of a decent blockbuster; fast car chase scenes, big explosions, Lautner in leather, star studded cast.
I think the biggest mistake the production makes is selling this film as an action thriller. If the big cheeses at Lionsgate had only re-defined Abduction as a slap stick comedy I am pretty sure it would have broke even in its opening weekend. The biggest joke lies in the fact that although the movie is called Abduction at no point does anyone get abducted. Hilarious.
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