Friday, 30 September 2011



The misdefining of words occurs twice with regard to this tween action thriller. Not just the intergalactic inaccuracy of the title: the film contains chases, fights, shootouts, martial arts, explosions, foreign spies, teen romance, anger management counselling and baseball, but there's no abduction and no-one is abducted. Secondly, Taylor Lautner is not an actor, whatever it might say on his IMDb page or his passport. He's an actor in the sense that he stands there and says and does whatever's in the script, but he's not an actor in the sense that he does any acting or can actually act. In the Twilight movies, he's there to add some smouldering animal meat to the simpering damprot of the Edward/Bella relationship, and he's performing pretty much the same function here - looking hunky and muscled and occasionally taking his shirt off, although not turning into a werewolf.

Abduction has Lautner playing an apparently ordinary high-school kid who, while researching missing children for a sociology class project, chances upon his own childhood photograph on a missing persons website: and before you can say "shameless plot contrivance", sinister men in suits turn up, murder his parents (who weren't really his parents), and blow up his house for no good reason. Who is he really, and what does he have that the CIA and a cabal of foreign agents both want? He has to go on the run with his cute neighbour, aided occasionally by psychiatrist Sigourney Weaver (who disappears for most of the movie), to solve the mystery, come to terms with his paternal abandonment issues, and look hunky and muscled with his shirt off.

Presumably they knew early on that Lautner had the character expression skills of a chair leg, so they drafted in real actors for the supporting roles: they could do the acting while Lautner got on with the "looking hunky and muscled" stuff. This was a mistake: putting Lautner in the same room as Jason Isaacs, Alfred Molina, Maria Bello and Sigourney Weaver merely punches up the contrast between the people who can act and the star who can't. If they'd cast it entirely with people from daytime soaps and pornography, Lautner wouldn't look so out of place. And if the object was distraction - to surround him with explosions and fights and chase sequences so you don't notice the gaping hole at the centre where a leading man should be - it doesn't come off because most of the action stuff is fatally underpowered (the train fight excepted: I thought that was quite well done).

The distraction technique worked in Eagle Eye, where they shoehorned Shia La Boeuf into an idiotic action movie but at least delivered the goods with the pyrotechnics and stunt sequences. But it doesn't work here. The plot's nonsense, the action scenes generally lack impact and the star is a blank - hardly surprising that Abduction is pretty horrendous stuff. As a middle-aged straight guy, I might not be the target audience - teenage girls who think Robert Pattinson is a bit drippy and prefer the smouldering biceps of the other bloke - but surely even they deserve something of more substance than this? Bizarrely, it's directed by John Singleton, one of the significant voices in the "New Black Cinema" of the 1990s with films like Boyz N The Hood - but now doing anonymous studio fodder like 2 Fast 2 Furious and this tween twaddle. Shame.


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