Let’s see … how shall I describe this film Abduction, a misleading and misdirecting title, which opened across the country today. It ‘s not quite worthy of being called Bourne lite, although it does have elements of Bourne. The bad guys may qualify as international villains, Eastern European division, but the film takes place within the narrow corridor of almost as far west as Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Northern Virginia and as far south as Langley, Va.
The star of the film, okay he’s not quite a star yet (at least for those of us who have ignored the Twilight saga) – but might be one someday – is Taylor Lautner. He’s kind of short for a leading man. I’m not positive of his height, but in a scene with Sigourney Weaver, he appeared to be significantly shorter than her.
The director, John Singleton, didn’t do Lautner any favors in the composition of that shot. Of course we do see an onscreen image of his ID and there his height is listed as 5’9″. Okay, it’s no crime to be short.
But what is nearly criminal is the lack of originality in the story, the major plot holes, as well as the rather lightweight and most unimpressive dialogues within this script. There are no memorable lines at all. In fact the film’s tag lines –
What if your entire life was a lie
The fight for the truth will be the fight of his life
– might be the two best written lines attached to the whole movie. Let’s have a look – Lautner’s character is called Nathan. He seems like a well adjusted high schooler, but he’s not that all right as he is seeing a psychiatrist for anger management and insomnia among other things. He’s got a crew of a couple of male buds, he’s shy around girls, and he overdoes the beer at a party at the beginning of the film only to wake up from a drunken stupor (a shirt-free opportunity for the Twilight-ers) on the lawn the next morning.
It is a fairly affluent neighborhood that he lives in – a Pittsburgh, PA. suburb. His parents Kevin (Jason Isaacs – the evil redcoat in The Patriot) and Mara (Maria Bello) aren’t given much of a story at least up front. When we meet Kevin, he’s sparring with his son Nathan (if you’re gonna drink like a man, you have to fight like a man). It looks kind of brutal, and while Nathan takes some lumps initially, he’s fairly adept at the martial arts; maybe far more adept than he should be.
Unless he’s been trained all of his life. Shades of Hanna begin to intrude. Thankfully they’re just shades.
He and his favorite gal pal, Karen (Lily Collins – Phil’s daughter) who lives right across the street have been assigned to work together on a school sociology project. Within minutes, they have arrived at a website about missing children in the name of research for the project. And Nathan and we are surprised when he sees a picture that might be him as a 4 year old. Only he’s not a missing child. Or so he thinks.
The website has some software that renders an adult version of the person from the child picture, but then, it’s no surprise that the rendered image is a near likeness of Nathan. Well, in this few minutes of the film, the bait/trap has been set, we and Nathan are hooked.
Would you then be surprised that within minutes – killers are at the door because the website was a trip wire and the bad guys immediately were made aware of who was having a look including the user’s location. Still, even given that this is a film – they still arrived far, far too quickly.
There’s your set up and it’s not bad. Only problem is that once that story line is established, that Nathan and Karen will have get out of town, and fast, the film goes directly downhill as if on tracks. Of course it is on tracks as Nathan and the cute girl have to escape by fleeing Pittsburgh on a train. On the train we see a cat and mouse game which explodes into violence quite soon. Didn’t we see this before with Anne Archer and Gene Hackman as a couple escaping on train? We did and that film was called – Narrow Margin.
The male hero of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and sequels, Michael Nyqvist, shows up as Koslow who is immediately recognizable as the killer slash bad guy even if you don’t recognize him from the films made from the Steig Larsson novels.
Alfred Molina is the CIA guy, and the previously mentioned Sigourney Weaver also gets into three scenes. Molina and Weaver have been in far better films than this one. Likely a needed pay check convinced them to participate.
The final action set piece plays out at a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. After all, a baseball stadium is a public place, and to get in you’d have to pass through a metal detector. So it should be safe. Yet there was a gun stashed which is a borrow directly from Coppola’s 1st Godfather classic.
Okay I’ll go no further than this as we’d would be creeping deeper into spoiler territory. I’ll give good marks for the principal photography and the editing and the pacing – but everything else, from the writing to the acting either was not believable, borrowed, or just bad. I’m sure Lautner’s fans will enjoy his muscles and his make out with Collins – but it’s going to take a lot more than that for me to not issue a warning (unless you are gaga for Lautner – you can safely skip this one) about this distinctly less than average movie.