Taylor Lautner as Nathan Harper
Lily Collins as Karen Murphy
Alfred Molina as Burton
Michael Nyqvist as Kozlow
Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Bennett
Jason Isaacs as Kevin Harper
Maria Bello as Mara Harper
Denzel Whitaker as Gilly
Holly Scott Cavanuagh as Mrs. Murphy
William Peltz as Jake
Elisabeth Röhm as Woman / Lorna
Roger Guenveur Smith as Mr. Miles
Allen Williamson as Billy
Directed by John Singleton
Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner) is a normal teenager who one day discovers the couple he thought were his parents (Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs) were actually assigned to watch over him after the death of his mother. When assassins show up at their home, Nathan finds himself on the run with his neighbor Karen (Lilly Collins), trying to get away both from the CIA and foreign assassins looking to get their hands on something Nathan has.
For those wondering when Taylor Lautner would get a vehicle to prove his worth beyond the “Twilight” franchise, you’ll just have to keep waiting, because “Abduction” doesn’t improve on his track record for weak material even if it tries its hardest to shoehorn him into a new genre.
We meet Taylor Lautner’s Nathan as he’s having fun with his friends, riding on the hood of a car on his way to a wild party. The next 20 minutes feels like one of those MTV dramas like “Teen Wolf,” trying to set up Nathan as the typical teenager from the suburbs as he makes at Lily Collins’ Karen, a childhood friend who lives across the street. Spending so much time establishing the character, it’s 20 minutes before we get to any sort of actual plot when Nathan sees his picture on a missing kids website, alerting those who have been trying to find him to his location. Nathan and Karen end up on the run from killers as well as a CIA agent played by Alfred Molina, but they get some help from the woman who has been acting as Nathan’s psychiatrist, played by Sigourney Weaver.
“Abduction” plays a lot like the recent “I Am Number Four” sans cool CG creatures except that this is just a terrible script filled with just about every action-thriller cliché we’ve seen in the genre going back to the ’80s.
Because of this, Lautner isn’t the worst part of the movie, and he certainly is believable when doing action, whether it’s martial arts or light parkour. He also drips with a certain amount of swagger and cool that makes it understandable why women like him so much, but when it comes to drama, he seems almost incapable of delivering even the simplest of lines in a convincing way. Collins is slightly better except the chemistry between them seems as awkward and forced as their romantic scenes, which tend to get more focus and attention than the action.
It’s doubtful many guys who’ve enjoyed Singleton’s previous movies will care much for “Abduction,” because there’s nothing about it that stands up to its marketing as an exciting action movie, instead coming off like something that’s been homogenized for Lautner’s teen girl fans with none of the action scenes really standing out or being particularly memorable.
One wonders how actors of the stature of Jason Isaacs or Maria Bello ended up doing this movie, although they do bring more to the roles of Nathan’s parents than other actors may have. On the other hand, Weaver and Molina seem oblivious to the fact they’re playing stereotypes in a bad action-thriller, delivering all their poorly written dialogue as if they’re performing Shakespeare.
In fact, you may wonder if anyone involved with this movie knew they were making such a bad one, and what on earth happened to John Singleton? Once a promising and respected filmmaker, he’s now at the helm of a movie with substandard camerawork and choppy editing that makes the movie look like it was made by an amateur.
Nathan eventually confronts the bad guy chasing after him for a stand-off in the middle of a Pittsburgh Pirates game, but it doesn’t go as planned, and it leads to an incredibly unsatisfying ending. “Abduction” tends to leave you with a lot more questions–heck, the movie doesn’t even have an actual abduction in it so what’s the deal with that title?–but the characters are so uninteresting, you’ll probably walk away not caring if you ever get those answers.
The Bottom Line:
“Abduction” may be one of the most patently incompetent action-thrillers we’ve seen in some time, and its teenage target audience should rightfully be insulted that the filmmakers actually thought they were making a movie specifically for them.