Someone decided Taylor Lautner, fresh from chasing Bella Swan in Twilight, needed to become an action star. This is understandable; Lautner is ripped and agile and probably more physically capable than most other nineteen year olds. But, in his first project as a leading man, Abduction, the uncomfortable-looking Lautner seems ill equipped to carry a film. Not that the script or Director John Singleton lend a helping hand. Abduction is one of the laziest thrillers in recent memory, full of wooden dialogue, dull action and eye-rolling angst. Devoid of suspense and intrigue, Abduction is a 106-minute test of patience.
Lautner plays high school senior Nathan Harper, who lives in suburbia with his parents, Kevin (Jason Isaacs) and Mara (Maria Bello). Nathan fancies himself a bit of a badass, and the film opens on him playing Ship's Mast on the hood of a speeding pick-up. Nathan also rides a motorcycle, dons Aviators, looks like a brawler, and, lest you think he is all talk, takes down Kevin in a sparring match while hungover. While working on a school project with crush Karen Murphy (Lily Collins), Nathan discovers his baby picture on a missing person's Web site. Before Kevin and Mara can straighten things out, gun-toting assassins burst into the house and kill them. Turns out, Nathan is actually the son of a valuable CIA operative, and was being protected from an international terrorist.
Abduction actually starts off well enough, but after Nathan and Karen go on the lam, things unravel quickly. The entire narrative is a set of rolling confrontations that lack suspense, and any surprises are overly foreshadowed. Nathan is only momentarily upset about Kevin and Mara, who raised him since childhood, as his new task is figuring out whom to trust. Supposed CIA handler Frank Burton (Alfred Molina) keeps popping up, as does Nathan's therapist, Geri Bennett (Sigourney Weaver). Oh, did I mention that Nathan has visions of some previous attack where a woman was killed in front of him? Ignoring anything else about Abduction, the film is mortally wounded by a terrible story. The premise at first sounds intriguing, but the film seems to look for every possible way to make the execution laughable.
Singleton, best known for directing Boyz n the Hood and Shaft, seems removed from the proceedings here. Abduction lacks the director's usual energy and toughness, and, while it was made with a teenage audience in mind, Abduction is downright sterilized. Lautner gives it his best physically, but his performance lacks emotion and range. Collins is not much better, and both she and Lautner seem to have taken Singleton's direction a bit too literally, as evidenced in the scene where the pair eats sandwiches "hungrily." The action scenes are nothing special either, save for some slick moves by Lautner. To make matters worse, the filmmakers seem to pull from Twilight in several moments of misplaced romance. The number of times Lautner finds himself without a shirt is also laughable, but hell, I guess the filmmakers knew their audience.
It's better luck next time for Lautner, who may well find success as an action hero in the future. Abduction is lazy filmmaking; a packaged commercial product that did not actually make much money at the box office. Singleton is better than this, as are the big names sprinkled throughout the cast. As for Lautner, only time will tell.
The 2.35:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer from Lionsgate is solid. The image is clear and detailed, with solid black levels and vibrant colors. Singleton's shooting style gives Abduction a bit of a flat look, but this is no fault of the transfer. Close-ups provide excellent facial details, and most wide shots are appropriately deep. Contrast is sometimes high, but colors do not bleed and skin tones appear natural. Aliasing, compression artifacts and noise reduction are not an issue.
Abduction receives a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that supports the action material. Dialogue is always clear and balanced, and the track makes good use of directional dialogue. Ambient and action effects bleed into the surround speakers, and the track gives the LFE a decent workout. Sound pans could be a bit more impressive, but the effects, dialogue and popular-music soundtrack all are appropriately interlaced. English, English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
Lionsgate serves up Abduction in a Blu-ray eco-case that is wrapped in a slipcover. Inside are the Blu-ray and an insert with a code to download a digital copy of the film on iTunes. Fans of the film will appreciate the solid selection of extras: Abduction Application: Customizable In-Film Experience is a picture-in-picture track that provides cast and crew interviews culled from the disc's other featurettes. Abduction Chronicle (18:17/HD) is Lautner's take on shooting the film. The young actor is very enthusiastic, and details why he was attracted to the project, shooting with veteran actors and doing his own stunts. Initiation of an Action Hero (11:57/HD) allows other members of the cast and crew to sing Lautner's praises, while The Fight for the Truth (12:01/HD) spotlights the rest of the cast. Finally, the Blu-ray includes Pulled Punches (3:37/HD), which is nothing more than a gag reel.
Taylor Lautner falters in his first leading action role under the weight of a lazy script and poor directing in Abduction. After Lautner's Nathan Harper finds his picture on a missing person's Web site, he is thrust into a cat-and-mouse game with an international terrorist and several CIA operatives. Lautner's performance lacks emotion and Abduction is missing suspense and satisfying action. Young teenage girls may enjoy this one simply because Lautner is on screen, but everyone else should steer clear. Skip It.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.