By Dustin Rowles | Film | September 23, 2011 |
By Dustin Rowles | Film | September 23, 2011 |
Think of Abduction this way: There’s the Bourne Identity, then way below that is Mark Wahlberg’s Shooter. Then there’s 50,000 feet of crap. Underneath that is Liam Neeson’s Unknown. Dig another 100,000 feet until you hit a liquid-y orange-and-brown ooze and there you will find Abduction, a movie so bad it shouldn’t be allowed to call itself a movie. It should be called bad performance art for troglodytic, subhuman Caucasian bed-wetting females with a predisposition for shirtless, roundhouse-kicking dildos. Comparing Bourne Identity to Abduction is like comparing Beyonce’s ass to Danny Devito’s: Sure, they’re both big, but one you want to tap and the other you want to shave and disinfect before you feed to stray dogs.
Put another way: Acne is more pleasant than Abduction.
There’s a reason Taylor Lautner was nearly replaced after the first Twilight movie: He’s not an actor. He’s a pair of abs attached to an inbred two by four. There are park statues with more range than Taylor Lautner. The kid is about as versatile as a blood clot and as charming as a yeast infection. According to entertainment news and junket headlines, Lautner is being groomed to be the next big action star, but that’s only because future casting directors have not seen Abduction. He can’t hack it. Granted, Hollywood doesn’t ask a lot of its action stars (see Arnold Schwarzenegger) but there is a minimum threshold to qualify, namely the ability to change facial expressions. Lautner has two looks: Stoic puffy face, and stoic puffy face with his nose slightly scrunched. He is so wooden that he makes Keanu Reeves look like Robin Williams on a coke bender. I’ve seen better acting on story boards.
In Abduction, Lautner plays Nathan, a mannequin head affixed to to a neck-less 200-pound brick shithouse. A senior in high school, Nathan has always felt out of place around people with the ability to change facial expressions. His presumed father (Jason Isaacs) is a hard ass who subjects Nathan to mixed-martial arts matches if he’s caught drinking, while his mom (Maria Bello) stands out of the way, nods lovingly and counts her money while daydreaming about staircase scenes with Viggo Mortenson.
Meanwhile, Nathan is also smitten with a classmate and next-door neighbor, Karen (Lily Collins), with whom Nathan is partnered with on an assignment that inexplicably involves browsing missing children websites. What Nathan doesn’t realize is that an evil Eastern European man set a trap for him by posting a kid photo of Nathan on the missing children website in an attempt to lure Nathan out of hiding because apparently the evil Eastern European (Girl with a Dragon Tattoo’s Michael Nyqvist) knew that Nathan would one day have an assignment in high school that asked of him to browse missing children’s websites. Obviously.
Believing that his parents are not who they say they are, Nathan does what any slow-bus dolt would do in that situation: He calls the phone number listed on the website. A few hours later, two henchman show up, kill his adopted parents, and blow up his house. Nathan, witness to his parents death, grabs Karen and runs.
Minutes later, a top dog at the CIA (Alfred Molina) illogically intercepts a 911 call that Nathan makes to report the death of his parents, but before he can convince Nathan to give himself over to the CIA, Nathan’s shrink (Sigourney Weaver) shows up with a bouquet of balloons and explains that the CIA shouldn’t be trusted, either. In fact, she says that the only person he can trust is her, the lady who unexpectedly arrived with a passel of Get Well Soon balloons and has been pretending to be his psychologist for the last decade.
John Singleton, who used up all of his talent 20 years ago on Boys n the Hood, takes an excruciating hour to set up Abduction, essentially enlarging the 30 second trailer into the film’s first two acts before an exposition dump that removes all of what little mystery there is. Long story short: The CIA is trying to get to Nathan before the evil Eastern European gets to Nathan because evil Eastern European intends to use Nathan to blackmail Nathan’s real father, another CIA Agent, into giving up a very important list of names in exchange for his son’s safe return. Nathan can’t trust anyone. So, he runs, and then in fine action movie tradition, he confronts (at a Pittsburgh Pirate’s game, no less).
I won’t deny that Lautner does have a talent for kicking the air, punching things, and running fast, but this is true of almost anyone you pull out of a martial arts class. I also won’t deny that he’s a well-sculpted robot, but this is also true of most K-Mart jean models. But Lautner has no presence; he’s a charisma vacuum who looks like he’s acting as a stand-in for Mario Lopez on a very bad Lifetime movie. You can take a bad story with bad dialogue and wrap it around a movie starring Stallone or Bruce Willis or even, in a pinch, Charming Potato. Those guys have, to greater or lesser degree, a commanding presence. But you can’t do that with Taylor Lautner: He only highlights how bad everything else is around him. And this is a Taylor Lautner vehicle: This movie only exists to provide a setting for Lautner to slide down glass windows and kickbox. Yet, it’s impossible to invest yourself in it when the lead actor looks like an embarrassed kid with his girlfriend who is trying to escape a room he accidentally farted in.
Abduction is as generic as store-brand ketchup, and while that might be true of most action films, Singleton (2 Fast 2 Furious, Four Brothers) continues his descent into made-for-television mediocrity by failing to bring anything to the film other than what cut-and-paste screenwriter Shawn Christian puts on the page. It’s a poorly paced thriller that, in an effort to keep its budget down, backloads most of the action sequences. The problem is, by the time they arrive, the audience — even those sympathetic to Jacob Black — have long since given up. Abduction is a mess; a poorly executed, atrociously acted nightmare of a slog.