Review: Abduction

Directed by: John Singleton

Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver.

Rating: 12A  Running Time: 106 Mins

Nathan (Taylor Lautner) lives the typical life of a teenager. As the movie opens, he’s out with friends drinking at a party and wakes up the next morning, still at the house where the party was. His father (Jason Isaacs) turns up looking for him and drives him home, angry at him for being out all night and not calling, and makes him pursue his daily training of boxing which soon turns into a playful yet full contact fight on the morals of being hungover, until his mother (Mario Bello) intercedes.

At school the next day, Nathan is assigned to work with a partner on a project about web pages, and is paired up with his neighbour Karen, who he has a crush on since they were kids. Whilst working on the assignment later that night, the two of them find a website with photos of missing children, one of which looks like a young Nathan, and when aged to look older, looks exactly like him.

Nathan contacts the site asking for more details, and when he confronts his mother, she confirms that she is not his biological mother, and is about to tell him the truth when men turn up at the house and promptly kill both her and his father. When Karen returns to the house, she is also about to be killed until Nathan saves her, and the two escape seconds before a bomb blows up the house. Together, they  must go on the run, searching for clues to find out Nathan’s true identity, and why people are trying to kill them, whilst trying to stay alive.

Director John Singleton rose to fame after his direction of the critically acclaimed Boyz N The Hood a little over two decades ago, since then he has gone on to direct movies such as Higher Learning, Shaft, 2 Fast 2 Furious (the worst of the series), and Four Brothers. His earlier works which usually surround the topic of racial tension, are great pieces of film making, but his latter work like Shaft and in particular 2 Fast 2 Furious, make for poor movies. Unfortunately, Abduction is more like his latter movies than his earlier work.

The initial setup of the movie works fine, with the school and home sequences with Isaacs and Bello actually fairly consistent and enjoyable, but once it turns into an action movie, and Lautner’s character has to go on the run, the movie starts to fall apart, rapidly. It also takes far too long for this to happen, being almost a full 30 minutes into the movie’s 106 minute run time before the pace tries to pick up. The way this happens actually made me think of From Dusk Till Dawn, where the movie is running along for quite a while before it suddenly changes and out of nowhere turns into a vampire movie (if that’s a spoiler, it’s been out for 15 years!) – the change in this movie’s direction feels just as drastic, but doesn’t really work.

Another problem with the movie is the casting, Lautner shows no sign that he has what it takes to be a leading actor in an action movie, in the opening scenes as a teenager at school, and at home with his parents, he’s perfectly fine, but again, as the movie changes and he becomes the main actor of the movie, he doesn’t fill the screen with the required presence. His scenes with Lilly Collins, who plays the girl next door/love interest don’t quite work either, with a moment when she decides to stay with Lautner instead of leaving to be safe, being a prime example of lacking the emotional resonance that it really should have had.

Alfred Molina stars as a CIA agent who may or may not be trying to help Nathan, and Sigourney Weaver is Nathan’s psychiatrist who is there to look out for him, both of which give average performances at best, with Weaver only being in the movie for a short amount of time like Isaacs and Bello. The bad guys of the movie are also dissapointing, none of them are particularly remarkable or memorable, and even in a shootout scene at a diner, or in fight/chase sequences don’t seem genuinely threatening as they should be.

There’s also the issue of pacing in the movie, with it trying to ramp up the beat during the action sequences, but then slowing right down to a crawl inbetween, where the characters stop altogether and so does the movie. The ending is also frustratingly dissapointing, with the wrap up feeling like they couldn’t come up with something better, even though there were several oppertunities to do something different.

The movie will no doubt be a fairly big hit with the teen audience and because of Latner’s casting, but it doesn’t hold up against other movies of it’s type like it wants to (for example, the Bourne Movies). It’s better than the Alex Pettifer teen-spy movie Stormbreaker which is of the same genre, but only just. Let the kids go see this if they’re really set on it, but do yourself a favour, and go see Drive instead.

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