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“Abduction” review: fault lies with the script and stunts

HollywoodNews.com: A good movie can overcome a weak central performance (see – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), just as a sparkling central performance can make a mediocre movie feel like a great one (see – Iron Man). But a poor story combined with a mediocre lead performance is a pretty toxic combination. Thus we have Taylor Lautner’s Abduction. I had a token amount of hope for the picture because I like trashy thrillers, even ones that star actors I don’t generally care for (see – Shooter). But the movie is just-plain bad. It’s not bad because Taylor Lautner can’t act, although this is surely not a convincing testament to his star power. It is weak because it fails to excel in the areas that had little to do with whether or not its lead actor was up to the task. John Singleton is saddled with a weak script and a shocking lack of big-scale action.

To say that the film is painfully unoriginal is not exactly an insult. The Bourne Identity was not the first film to deal with an assassin who realizes that he doesn’t want to kill people (IE – the plot of 50% of all direct-to-DVD action thrillers), and so Abduction being a somewhat derivative variation of the whole ‘your life is a lie and now you’re on the run from villains’ template isn’t that much of a problem. So the story stinks, but John Singleton’s would-be thriller completely botches the two things that would make this film worth-watching regardless. While the film seems filled with notable actors, only Alfred Molina registers any real screen-time. Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello play Lautner’s would-be foster parents, so if you’ve seen the trailer you know they don’t last long. Isaacs does have a couple nice moments to play, including oddly enough the best action beat in the film, but Bello’s best moment occurs once she’s already dead (the film remembers to have Isaacs mourn the death of his wife).

Sigourney Weaver exists primarily for exposition, and she’s barely around after the first act. So the heavy lifting is left up to poor Alfred Molina, who is supposed to be an top-notch CIA operative even while his fellow agents get (bloodlessly) bumped off in shocking numbers. With Isaacs and Bello dead and Weaver gone for the entire last half of the film, the film pretty much rests on the shoulders of Lautner and Lily Collins, as the token girlfriend/occasional hostage (her second-act imperilment is odd since she rescues herself but does not aid in the battle… it’s purely so she can be threatened and then tied and gagged for bondage fans). Lautner has the six-pack, and Collins is awfully attractive, but it’s not enough.

Photo by Bruce Talamon

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About Scott Mendelson

Mendelson's Memos: The basics - 30 years old, married with one child, currently residing in Woodland Hills, CA. I am simply a longtime film critic and pundit of sorts, especially in the realm of box office. The main content will be film reviews, trailer reviews, essays, and box office analysis and comparison. I also syndicate myself at The Huffington Post and Open Salon. I will update as often as my schedule allows. Yes, I'm on Facebook/Twitter/LinkIn, so feel free to find me there. All comments are appreciated, just be civil and try to keep a level discourse, as I will make every effort to do the same. Read more at Mendelson's Memos:

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One Comment

  • October 2, 2011 | Permalink |

    I agree that this movie lacks in story and direction. It would have been better to cast young Taylor Lautner in a better script/story than this. His co-star, Collins, needs another career entirely – maybe music like daddy?

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