I did not enjoy Abduction, but not for the reasons you might suspect. While there are many to address, I want to assure you that none of my negative points will verbally lambast lead actor Taylor Lautner just because “he’s that guy from Twilight.” Nor will I make scalding references to his gratuitous lack of upper body wear — not because it isn’t deserving (it is) or because I’m a nice guy (I am) — but mostly because it will end up sounding more like an awkward combination of contempt and jealousy than witty commentary.
When the shy but short-tempered Nathan (Lautner) is paired up with girl next door Karen (Lily Collins) for a school research assignment, he is shocked to find an image of his younger self on a missing persons’ website, prompting him to question everything he thought was normal about his life. When the cover is blown, he and Karen find themselves on the run, unable to trust anyone in their search for the truth.
Although I mentioned at the beginning of this review that I wouldn’t pick on Lautner, I do have something to say about him. I must concede that he does his best in what is otherwise a sinking ship from the opening scene on. Naturally, his acting skills do need a lot of refinement — we’re not looking at the next coming of Bobby De Niro here — but his occasionally lackluster delivery and blank stare is simply an offshoot of a much, much bigger problem: The script.
As an unapologetic actioner, it should be expected that Abduction possesses some of the clunky dialogue clichés associated with the genre. These include, but are not limited to “trust has to be earned,” “I’m not leaving without her” and perennial favorite “wait . . . how do you know my name?,” which is actually used more than once. But among these tired expressions are a handful of head scratchers; lines intended to act as cool quips but possessing an undoubtedly cringe-worthy aftertaste. For example, after Gerry (Sigourney Weaver) helps Nathan escape using balloons to cover security cameras (a la Ocean’s Eleven) she releases them with the deadpan, utterly serious line of, “I hate balloons.” And that, dear readers, is just scraping the surface . . .
The set pieces are just as ludicrous, asking the viewer to buy into the movie too much when we have not been given any reason to engage with the plot in the first place. In one instance, we bear witness to a CIA agent (operating undercover as a suburban housewife) easily take out two highly trained assassins. The climax set at a baseball game is a storytelling train wreck, fraught with inconsistencies and overly convenient outcomes. At the very least, I hoped a film set in Pittsburgh would show some love for the mighty Steelers instead of the lowly Pirates, but I digress.
Generally it’s also assumed that these types of movies will suffer from varying flaws in logic and realism. The audience is asked to overlook these moments — which, more often than not, would result in serious injury for the hero if it were real life — simply because the hero is just that, a hero. But in Abduction these “leaps of faith” occur so often, and on such a noticeable scale that they severely detract from any engagement with the film, ultimately becoming its greatest letdown.
I can, however, commend director John Singleton for the satisfactory action scenes which minimized the kind of close-up, rapid camera movement that has drawn the bulk of my ire in recent months. Also, I was pleased to see the film show a bit of gumption by avoiding an entirely happy, all’s-well-that-ends-well conclusion, but these upsides are not nearly enough to sweeten what is otherwise an inherently flawed film.