Here’s hoping Taylor Lautner has a good relationship with his personal trainer and a surplus of Crest Whitestrips. They might need to carry him very, very far.
Not that this disclosure will stop Team Jacob from sharpening silver bullets for me, but I brought no preconceived notions about Lautner to Abduction, a generic title made worse by the fact it makes no sense whatsoever based on plot developments) No Twilight, no Sharkboy and Lavagirl and sure as hell no Valentine’s Day.
I wasn’t the only blank slate in the theater. I just wasn’t the one feebly trying to carry a 106-minute movie.
Were Lautner in a boy band, he’d be Brooder Emeritus. Acting in Abduction, he looks like he’s struggling to remember lines. Of course, this does Lautner the accidental favor of creating pauses that sound dramatic. And during the film’s only scene of modest worth — when Lautner’s Nathan winds up in a life-or-death slugfest on an Amtrak train — he flashes an “Oops!” face that looks less like he tossed a dude out a window, more like he burned the muffins.
Yes, Lautner is only 19. He could certainly improve, and his obligations toward shirtlessness might shackle him more than we know. But as of right now, there are more distinguishing features in the sound effects of that Amtrak train. The rest of Abduction is equally bland. It’s not exciting, clever or involving at any level other than that of unintentional hilarity. Plus, its plot lurches forward with sluggish formalities usually reserved for WWE Films — a surprise given director John Singleton’s skills for swift, enjoyable B-movies like Four Brothers and 2000’s Shaft.
Nathan is a hair-trigger teen with rage and rebellion issues. Yeah, that couldn’t possibly result from dad Kevin’s (Jason Isaacs) choice of punishment — punches that sound like they’re tearing off chunks of Nathan’s kidney after he comes home hungover.
To write a paper about missing children, Nathan is partnered with his comely next-door neighbor, Karen (Lily Collins, setting up a nice little niche as the new Jordana Brewster). After Nathan and Karen share chuckles over a website speculating what stolen kids might look like as adults — always a bottomless source for laughs — Nathan finds a photo that’s a dead ringer for him. “It’s the same chin!” he insists, before finding a stained shirt that seals the deal: His parents are not his parents. Shortly after confronting his “mom,” Mara (Maria Bello), assassins storm the house, murder Kevin and Mara, and blow up the place — but not before Nathan and Karen narrowly escape.
Together, they end up on the run from a Serbian criminal so bad he threatens to kill all of Nathan’s friends, even the Facebook ones. A CIA agent (Alfred Molina) is also in dogged pursuit. Nathan’s shrink (Sigourney Weaver) proves an unexpected ally. And of course, there’s the matter of finding out who Nathan’s real parents were and how he ended up with Kevin and Mara.
It doesn’t take long for the mind to wander and consider Abduction’s many absurdities. Given what we learn about Kevin and Mara, why would they clumsily leave that shirt lying around? What ER is so sedate that a half-dozen people stop to stare in horror at a TV news story about a fire in which there were no reported casualties? How does the wrestling team get out of wearing singlets? It sure is nice of Nathan’s friend to drive five hours just to give him fake IDs, which only work because the CIA doesn’t, y’know, distribute pictures of Nathan and Karen to major modes of transportation. Is it just me, or do those “woods” look like a well-manicured park?
And only advertisements for paid extras could lure that many people to a Pittsburgh Pirates game. That location does give Abduction a sight you’ve never seen before — an action hero in a Roberto Clemente shirt. In that getup, Nathan winds up limping during the third act. Abduction goes lame much, much earlier.