Release Date: 28th September 2011
Director: John Singleton
Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello
Certificate: 12 A
Running Time: 106mins
At the moment Taylor Lautner is mainly known for one thing; taking his shirt off a lot in the Twilight movies. Thanks to his new movie, Abduction, from now on he’ll be known for taking his shirt off a lot in that too.
Abduction is Taylor’s chance to show he has what it takes to be a leading man and carry a film on his own. Or not, as the case may be.
He plays teenager Nathan Harper, a relatively normal high school kid with a taste for the wild life and a dad who seems to enjoy beating him up in boxing bouts aimed at toughening him up. He sees a shrink, again an apparent normality among American teenagers, but apart from that he has a pretty standard high-school life, admiring his neighbour Karen from afar and getting drunk at pool parties. But despite a good life and loving parents, Nathan, has a constant feeling that he doesn’t quite fit in, not helped by recurring dreams of a woman being attacked while he watches.
When Nathan and Karen team up for a school project on missing teenagers he comes across a website, only to find a picture of himself as a child, named on the site as Stephen Price. He answers an appeal for information about his whereabouts but then has a re-think and stops halfway through. However, the damage has been done and a chain of events set in motion that will change Nathan’s life forever.
At the risk of giving too much away, this is basically a spy thriller for teenagers. For the first 45 minutes or so I was quite taken with the film. It was much less patronising and formulaic than most movies aimed at this market and it was coming across as a classy and intelligent thriller which was equally appealing to teenage and older audiences.
Sadly, after about an hour, something went wrong. Suddenly the well-written and exciting story veered off course and plunged into a predictable ditch of flashbacks, stilted dialogue and clichés. The relationship between Nathan and Karen is typical teen stuff but it detracts from the spy drama which is far more interesting. Martial arts champ, Taylor seems very at home in the fight sequences and it gives him a chance to flex all his muscles, the physical ones and those of the acting variety. However, I’m still not sure whether he or his co-star Lily Collins (daughter of singer Phil) have what it takes to do something weightier than this in the future. It’s hard to tell as they seem to be pretty capable at the start but don’t have a lot to work with by the end and even the heavyweight supporting cast struggle with the weak script and one-dimensional characters.
There are also some really annoying elements to the plot. For example, how come Karen’s parents don’t seem the slightest bit interested in the fact their daughter’s missing after their neighbour’s house has just blown up? Okay, they are meant to be on holiday but do they never phone or text? When I was a teenager and trusted to be at home alone, I was bombarded with phone calls and neighbours popping in. There are lots of minor quibbles like that in the second part of the movie that build up and become frustrating, causing the story to lose the credibility it had managed to build up in the first part.
I think anyone between the ages of 12 and 18 will enjoy this but it’s a shame to limit the audience as, had it continued in the way it started, it would have had a much wider appeal. It’s a bit like a first date where the object of your affection is good looking and charming but just can’t follow through when it counts. This is a real case of peaking too soon and very disappointing.