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'Abduction' Movie Review

A Complete and Total Misfire

About.com Rating .5 Star Rating


Taylor Lautner and Lily Collins in 'Abduction'

Taylor Lautner and Lily Collins in 'Abduction'

© Lionsgate Films
Just how awful is Abduction? Let me count the ways in which this 'thriller' lets down anyone unfortunate enough to be forced/tricked into buying a ticket for this horrible, horrible movie. One, it makes no sense whatsoever. Two, the dialogue is beyond atrocious. In fact, labeling it atrocious demeans that word. Three, the action is ludicrously staged. Four, the talented supporting cast (Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver, Jason Isaacs, and Maria Bello) are all completely wasted in tiny, underdeveloped little roles. Five, no one gets abducted so the title's just a big tease - or an attempt to cash in on Taylor Lautner's 'abs'. And six, Taylor Lautner can not carry a movie, at least not one that doesn't involve werewolves and going shirtless 90% of the time.

Lautner plays a high school student named Nathan who's not one of the popular kids. He goes to the cool parties, but I think we're supposed to assume he's on the outside looking in. He isn't good with girls, despite being Taylor Lautner. Yes, I do realize he's supposed to be playing a character, but in Abduction it's always Taylor Lautner playing at being a normal high school kid. No way do you ever forget that for one moment, especially given the fact director John Singleton has staged scenes in such a way as to draw parallels to scenes/poses from Twilight.

Nathan's got anger issues and is visiting a psychiatrist to try and help him sort things out, while at home he's constantly beat up by his dad (Isaacs) - although under the guise of training him to protect himself - which can't be good for a kid working on controlling his rage. Dad kicks the crap out of Nathan in such a violently brutal way on a daily basis that one has to wonder why Child Protective Services were never called in to check on the poor kid's welfare. But, see, there's a plan in place here that Nathan doesn't know about until he conveniently sees a picture of himself on a missing children website (after clicking through maybe two or three photos).

Nathan puts two and two together and figures out his parents aren't really his parents after all. That's confirmed when he, again, conveniently finds the t-shirt he was wearing in the picture of him as a child (with the same stain on the shoulder) in a dresser drawer in his house. Why the fake parents would keep the shirt from his youth which ties him to a dangerous time in his past they're trying to protect him from is not explained. But, it's the least of the story points that make no sense so we'll move right along and try to ignore it as screenwriter Shawn Christensen and director John Singleton have chosen to do.

So, Nathan finds all this out while working on a school report with his across-the-street neighbor, Karen (Lily Collins), who he has a crush on but on a normal day would barely acknowledge. And when the bad guys bust in and kill his pretend spy parents (who took him in when his real spy mom was murdered), the cute neighbor is conveniently forced into going on the run with him. The CIA wants him, Serbian bad guys are trying to kill him, and his psychiatrist claims to be an agent out to protect him (and, yes, you see that coming from a mile away). Not knowing who to trust, Nathan and Karen take off on the most ridiculous adventure ever put together in an action film in which they try to stay ahead of all their pursuers, all while making googly eyes at each other.

The Bottom Line:

There's no reason for Karen to hit the road with Nathan and there's no reason for Nathan to be the target everyone's pursuing. The entire road trip Nathan and Karen embark on is poorly written, so incredibly absurd as to flip the film from being a dramatic thriller into an action comedy. Their 250 mile-ish chase around Pennsylvania becomes increasingly far-fetched the longer it goes on.

The lengthy chase includes the most laughable fight sequence on a train involving Lautner and a much bigger, stronger, and more seasoned Serbian hit man in which, I kid you not, it seems both actors stop repeatedly to make sure they are correctly in place for the next portion of the choreographed fight scene. And I can't even begin to explain how astonishingly ridiculous it is to see Collins with her hands tied together above her head, laying on the floor with her mouth taped shut in a total panic one minute and the next she's standing in the doorway of the train compartment all perfectly fine. What?! She's not the one who spent her life being trained by her fake dad to get out of jams, so how did she maneuver her way to freedom? Silly, silly, silly mistakes like that serve to just reinforce the fact that Abduction is a toss-away film that should have gone directly into the discount DVD bin without a theatrical release (and would have had it not been for Lautner's Twilight fan base).

Lily Collins and Taylor Lautner in 'Abduction'

Lily Collins and Taylor Lautner in 'Abduction'

© Lionsgate Films

As for Lautner, he shows off nothing here we haven't seen before. And unfortunately, other than a few lighter moments at the beginning of the film, he's seriously out of his league trying to be a leading man at this point in his career. Lautner hasn't learned yet how to express emotions on film, and his wooden performance matched with bad dialogue and ludicrous action scenes make Abduction one of the worst films of 2011.

Off the top of my head, I can think of dozens of things that are actually more painful than sitting through a screening of Abduction. But none of them I would pay to do or have done to me and last time I checked they're charging money to see Abduction. Abduction isn't Twilight, so Team Jacob members please save your money for something more deserving. If you desperately need a Lautner fix, just pop in one of your Twilight Saga DVDs for the umpteenth time and you'll be fine.

There's absolutely no reason to have to suffer through Abduction unless you have been abducted against your will into seeing it. Even then, shutting your eyes and plugging your ears would provide you with a more enjoyable way to pass two hours of time than actually taking a look at what's being served up on screen.


Abduction was directed by John Singleton and is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action, brief language, some sexual content and teen partying.

Theatrical Release: September 23, 2011

This review is based on a screening provided by the studio. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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