Review: A Brooding, Wooden Taylor Lautner Muddles His Way Through The Nonsensical 'Abduction'

by Gabe Toro
September 22, 2011 12:05 PM
18 Comments
  • |


In the future (it’s closer than you think!), celebrities will be an even bigger part of our society. While the pool of “famous people” will expand beyond movie stars, politicians and random public figures, we’ll find ourselves consumed by the public’s thirst for all things mega-famous. In this future, somewhere, someone will write a massive tome dedicated to the forehead of Taylor Lautner. Like the Monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” it is massive, and says everything and nothing. It sits on top of the scrunched up Zardoz-of-a-face that is this curious manchild, at once Cro-Magnon and, yet, every bit representative of his teenage years. It's going to be a helluva book.

Abduction,” the latest from former director John Singleton, is a primo showcase for such a dome. Lautner, the star of the “Twilight” films with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, has chosen a different path than that duo. While Pattinson has been delicate with the types of talent with whom he chooses to collaborate; Stewart has chosen smaller, character-centric indie dramas to boost her profile. The forehead, and the rest of Lautner, have opted for a high octane star vehicle, the likes of which we haven’t seen before: Lautner’s demographic might be of the kiddie-adventure “Cody Banks” school of entertainment, but “Abduction” places a premium on head snapping, bullet-soaring action.


Lautner is Nathan Harper, a ridiculously built high school senior who otherwise lives an unremarkable life in the suburbs with macho dad Jason Isaacs and vivacious housewife Maria Bello. Isaacs and Bello seem like the perfect couple, but when suited operatives attack the house, they jump into kung fu mode, defending their turf and their son. But they’ve arrived at the moment Nathan has begun to question his lineage, finding his photo on a missing persons website, suggesting he was taken from his family as a child.

As someone who has seen too many movies, the arrival of two thugs, the murder of his would-be parents, and the destruction of his home means that, instead of waiting for the authorities, Nathan hits the road with his possible new girlfriend Karen (glorified prop Lily Collins). When he makes a 911 call, it isn’t intercepted as much as answered by Agent Burton of the CIA, who was seemingly waiting around in the 911 dispatch offices waiting for Nathan to call. As Barton, Alfred Molina brings a bizarre calm to the rote lines he has to speak, and, for a minute, is a good enough actor to make you forget the plot doesn’t make sense. When he pleads for young Nathan to trust him, Nathan roars, “TRUST IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO EARN.”

Through circumstances too complex to illustrate, mostly involving Sigourney Weaver in a genuine career low as a Swiss Army Knife plot dispenser, Nathan learns he’s being targeted by Kozlow (Michael Nyqvist), an Eastern European goon who is searching for Nathan’s real father, a CIA operative who went off the grid and holds a super important MacGuffin. Kozlow’s plan, which somehow WORKED, involved placing Nathan’s face on a series of dummy websites, hoping Nathan would call in and report something. Which explains why “Taylor Lautner” is usually a top Google search.

Lautner is an impressive physical specimen, and the film seems dedicated to letting you know this as the camera lingers over his biceps repeatedly. It actually creates a serene effect when Lautner is silent, as that brow, and that small, frustrated face underneath suggest a deep fascination with events that surround him. He carries the same expression dodging bullets as he does when operating a laptop, in that he’s way out of his element, desperate to understand these arcane notions of human civilization. Watch “Abduction” on mute, and it almost seems like a studio remake of “The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser.” Let’s face it -- the kid isn’t exactly safe at home with dialogue, nuance, or basic human behaviours.

Singleton has little interest in the smaller moments, so he limits dialogue to exposition, cliché, and transparent filler, allowing for the action sequences to take precedence. They’re not bad, in that they’re easy to understand and superficially solid at maintaining momentum. A highlight is a vaguely parkour-inspired chase through a crowded PNC Park, and for once the most illogical conceit isn’t the athleticism of the participants, but the fact that the stadium would be crowded when the Pirates play the Mets. Most of the time, the direction is barely functional, and the logic of non-action moments seems downright baffling: at one point, Nathan tells Karen they absolutely need to leave the forest and get into the river, where they wade in the shallow end for about forty five seconds to avoid enemy surveillance before returning to the trees. A similar scene features a character hiding two friends behind a handful of balloons in a crowded hospital hallway. The screenwriters have clearly studied Stealth 101.

“Abduction” culminates in a finale that clearly feels that they’ve set up Lautner’s Nathan as a John McClane-styled badass who may one day encounter danger again. There’s nary a consequence to this school kid who we just saw brandish a gun, throw a man out of a moving train, and survive his house exploding, with only a couple of bad guys taking the fall. With his brooding countenance, poor handle of emotion, edgy extreme sports leanings and general lack of accountability, it’s easier to see Nathan fit the bill of Kyle Steele, the NSA agent portrayed by Scott Speedman in “XxX: State Of The Union.” Which is to say, this may be our only adventure with a boy that might as well be a t-shirt with a forehead, an actor that makes Paul Walker look like Daniel Day-Lewis, and a script that might as well have been written on a cocktail napkin. [D-]

You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

18 Comments

  • JAN | March 22, 2012 1:17 PMReply

    I saw the movie and it was pretty good. Taylor was good considering! he is young and he will get better and better if connect himself with better directors!

  • virginia | December 30, 2011 10:21 AMReply

    i havent seen abduction but i thought taylor did a pretty good job in breaking dawn so im surprised everyone says he's so bad here. i was only going to see it because he's hot anyway though. lol

  • paul | September 24, 2011 6:31 AMReply

    meant "if" you look at the sills.

  • paul | September 24, 2011 6:29 AMReply

    lol. of you look at the stills shows he has the same facial expression.

  • bruckey | September 23, 2011 12:55 PMReply

    wow-don't hold back !
    didn't he get crazy money for this ?

  • olivia | September 23, 2011 12:49 PMReply

    Wow, racist much?

    And of course, the critics would use the chance to jump on Taylor Lautner for this movie. But the last time I checked, the director and screenplay were the ones responsible for making a decent movie - not the actors.

  • PN | September 23, 2011 12:26 PMReply

    In one word it's Absuction. RIP John Singleton.

  • Peggy | September 23, 2011 4:33 AMReply

    I'm still trying to figure out what race that dude is. He ain't white, although they act like he is for purposes of publicity. They let him play Indian in Twilight, et al. Dudes face does bug me. He gets a pass because he doesn't look black, but he's got some color in him. I may go see it just for his biceps though.

  • R | September 23, 2011 4:29 AMReply

    You've been too polite to come out and say Singleton walked through the door Spike Lee opened to become a studio hack. Dude even managed to make a bad Shaft picture so he's not even a good hack. His greatest achievement is that he isn't directing sitcoms by now.

  • Glass | September 23, 2011 3:27 AMReply

    "“Abduction,” the latest from former director John Singleton"

    *DEAD*

  • wray | September 23, 2011 1:38 AMReply

    "for once the most illogical conceit isn’t the athleticism of the participants, but the fact that the stadium would be crowded when the Pirates play the Mets" - That's great lol. Seriously though, I cringe every time the "Abduction" trailer comes on t.v. and I hear his line readings. It's like he went to the Orlando Bloom/ Hayden Christensen/ Ryan Phillippe school of acting. They should go ahead and cast him as someone's son in "The Expendables 2".

  • KT | September 23, 2011 1:26 AMReply

    @ olivia

    Seriously? A strong actor's talent should always be able to rise above any shoddy writing as well as have the ability to convey more than one emotion throughout the duration of a film.

    Plenty of great actors have turned in good performances in subpar movies. Taylor just happens to be a shitty actor in a shitty movie.

    And how is this racist? Against, who - a pig-faced kid who's posing as a white person?

  • Amir Syarif Siregar | September 23, 2011 1:15 AMReply

    Lautner is the sole weakest link in that 'Twilight' series. And they give him his own movie? Think we found a perfect reason to give him his own Razzie award.

  • w23 | September 23, 2011 1:09 AMReply

    I like that in all of those still photographs he has essentially the exact same look on his face.

  • Dan Kuznicski | September 22, 2011 12:58 PMReply

    DAAAAAAAAAAAMN!!!!! You went in hard. If it's as bad as you say it is I might just go this weekend for the lulz. This dude seriously gets on my nerves, he's lucky he has Twilight to fall back on. If he's going to make a serious push at action movies he should have taken some smaller roles. Where as his other Twilight co-stars, R-Pattz and K-Stew, can actually act, this dude seems to be the epitome of a fabricated 'actor'.

  • carrie | September 22, 2011 12:30 PMReply

    and Paul Walker is DDL of the abs

  • carrie | September 22, 2011 12:27 PMReply

    don't trash him too much:he's very young...and he's not good in Twilight movies...and he doesn't look good here (i only saw the trailer)

  • KT | September 22, 2011 12:20 PMReply

    inb4desperateteenagegirlsdefendtaylortothedeath

Email Updates