Abduction review (Blu-ray)

What do you get when you combine one of the stars of a phenomenally successful teen franchise, the director of one of the most seminal and hard hitting dramas of the past 20 years, and a highly impressive supporting cast in a Bourne-esque action thriller? Apparently, a complete mess of a film.

Abduction follows the story of Nathan (Lautner), a typical teenager living in an American suburb, he has a strained but loving relationship with his parents, he is awkwardly dealing with being attracted to the girl next door, and he enjoys going to parties. However, a chance viewing of a missing children website reveals he himself is a missing child, beginning a chain of events that sees his ‘Parents’ assassinated (and their house blown up with a bomb in their oven no less), and forces him to go on the run to escape from their killers and search for the truth of his real identity.

Lautner will never be a leading man. Abduction is solid proof of this. He is wooden, cold and generally very unlikable. He spends much of the film pulling one of his two facial expressions: open mouthed and squinting, or smiling psychotically. He offers nothing of value in this role, and while he may be well suited to playing a brooding werewolf type in Twilight, he cannot carry an action film on his own. His delivery lacks any kind of personality whatsoever. However, one thing Lautner does excel at, is taking his shirt off for no apparent reason, which he does frequently throughout Abduction.

The supporting cast are just as bad, with Weaver appearing for a grand total of about 10 minutes and offering nothing but a slight story exposition, and looking hugely disinterested throughout. Molina is little better, spending much of the film literally phoning it in, on a Bluetooth headset, and again offering little as a one of the villains of the film.

The plot is full of holes, and not even forgivable ones. Much of the film makes little sense, and everything is far too convenient, and hugely unbelievable. Lautner should presumable at least be vaguely upset by the death of what he thought was his parents, but by the end of the film, he seems to have completely forgotten about them. The film appears to lead towards a twist in the tale, or some kind of betrayal or the revelation of some kind of secret. However, it does not arrive, and the film plays out with tedious inevitability. Even the technology which is central to the plot is outdated and fantastical, draining any remaining credibility from this incredibly weak effort.

Overall, this film has few redeeming qualities. The action sequences are fine, if not slightly overegged, but enjoyable enough, and Lily Collins is perfectly acceptable as love interest Karen. However, beyond these things, Abduction is an abject failure on every level, and it’s unbelievable to think this film was directed by the same man who directed Boyz in the hood. The whole film feels like it should have been made in the late 1990s, but in the wake of game changing action films like The Bourne trilogy, the clunky dialogue and eye roll inducing plot do not cut it in 2011. How this script was greenlit by a major studio is a far more interesting mystery than anything that happens in Abduction. Avoid.

EXTRAS ★½ There's a thing called the Abduction Application which, when switched on, allows you to select "customized segments" while watching the film; the making-of featurette Abduction Chronicle (18:17); the featurette Initiation of an Action Hero (11:57); the featurette The Fight For The Truth (12:01); a gag reel called Pulled Punches (3:37).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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