** (out of 5)
September 23, 2011
Taylor Lautner as NATHAN
Lily Collins as KAREN
Alfred Molina as BURTON
Sigourney Weaver as DR. BENNETT
Jason Isaacs as KEVIN
Maria Bello as MARA
Directed by: John Singleton
BY KEVIN CARR
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There are so many intriguing things surrounding “Abduction” the movie that its existence is far more interesting than the film itself. The first thing that comes to mind when I think about this movie is what in God’s name happened to John Singleton’s career?
After all, this was a guy who was once heralded as the next Spike Lee, and the youngest directors at the time to be nominated for an Oscar. Sure, he stumbled after making his debut effort “Boyz in the Hood,” and there was that whole “2 Fast 2 Furious” piece of dreck he made about ten years ago. But he had a nice quality bump with “Four Brothers,” then he follows it up years later with this?
Oh John Singleton, where did you go wrong?
Then there’s the fact that “Abduction” is built completely around an attempt to make “Twilight” jailbait Taylor Lautner an action star. But unlike his co-star Robert Pattinson who is choosing weepy melodramas like “Remember Me” and “Water for Elephants,” Lautner decides to go for the teen version of “The Bourne Identity” with a creepy title reminiscent of what many a Twi-mom have dreamed of doing to him.
Singleton is in amazingly over (or maybe under) his depth in this film. Instead of telling a taut story with some gritty violence and action like he did with “Four Brothers,” Singleton dives right into what you’d expect from a Taylor Lautner headliner. Within five minutes, Lautner is without a shirt and sleeping outside. The tight-cropped close-ups could have been ripped from the next “Twilight” movie for all we know. He so caters to his tween girl audience that his directing feels soft, almost full of shame.
The story is actually too simple. It starts like a mash-up between a random episode of teen chum from the CW and takes entirely too long to rehash what we already know from the trailer: Lautner’s character of Nathan learns his parents are not his birth parents. When he starts looking into his past, some bad dudes show up to take him away. This sends Nathan and his would-be cheerleader girlfriend next door on the run.
It’s no surprise that Lautner or co-star Lily Collins are having trouble acting in this film. What is a surprise is seasoned, quality actors like Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello slag through their dialogue as well. Once again, I blame Singleton, who seems to have forgotten how to direct actors in the last twenty years.
But Singleton does manage to throw some decent action moments and hand-to-hand fight scenes our way, even if they’re few and far between. Still, the marketing behind the film is clearly trying to set Lautner up as the next big star. After all, they named the film “Abduction,” and the dirty little secret is that no one actually gets abducted in the movie. It’s a bad name for a mediocre film.
In the end, “Abduction” isn’t terrible, but it’s not good, either. It’s entirely forgettable, like Lautner will be once these last “Twilight” films work their way through Hollywood’s lower intestines.