High school seniors Nathan and Karen find a website with photos of children who are missing or believed abducted. One of the photos is of Nathan as a child, putting into question the identities of the couple whom he's always called Mom and Dad. Contacting the site to learn more only results in Nathan becoming the target of an intense, high-tech, international manhunt. Before his "parents" can explain themselves, they are executed by hired guns, and Nathan is on the run with Karen in tow (who just happened to be there at the wrong time). Phone use by either of them only connects directly to a man claiming to be C.I.A., in whom they find reasons not to trust. With encroaching shootouts, car chases, hand-to-hand combat and explosions around them, this seems quite much for a mere case of child abduction, and Nathan can only rely on the wrestling, boxing and martial arts skills taught by his "dad" to protect both himself and Karen as they follow a lead to find Martin, Nathan's biological ... Written by
Bland action thriller that tries- but fails- to be the younger Bourne, no thanks to Taylor Lautner's hammy acting
Five minutes. That was how long it took before Taylor Lautner took his shirt off in his purportedly gritty action thriller 'Abduction'- and depending on how you took to that fact, you may find yourself enjoying every minute of it or cringing in disbelief. Right from the start, this Taylor-made vehicle makes no excuses for being a breakout role for the 'Twilight' star- after all, if Team Edward (or Robert Pattinson) can do it, then there's no reason why Team Jacob can't do likewise.
Nonetheless, it seems that Team Jacob should have just stayed in the woods of Forks, Washington, for this insipid Bourne-wannabe does him nor his fans no favours. Rather, (and we may be risking our life and limb by saying this) it only demonstrates his limitations as an actor, especially since he practically recycles the same angsty broody expression throughout the film that he had already put forth umpteen times in the 'Twilight' movies. And no, being a teenager who discovers that the people you call 'mother' and 'father' aren't in fact your real parents isn't much of an excuse too.
That's the predicament Lautner's character Nathan finds himself in one day, after stumbling across a website with photos of missing children and using some software to approximate what one of those kids could look like as a teenager. Though that's the very premise of the movie, the least we expected was for debut feature film screenwriter Shawn Christensen to come up with a better lead in than just some stupid research assignment Nathan and his girl next door Karen (Lily Collins, daughter of singer Phil) was assigned to work together on.
Logic and coherence are however too much evidently to demand, as one would have to suspend both to believe that Nathan is suddenly at the centre of global espionage with both the good guys (led by 'Spiderman 2's' Alfred Molina) and the bad guys (led by Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist from 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo') in pursuit. Apparently, Nathan is the son of a top secret CIA undercover operative whose 'parents' (Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello) are fellow CIA agents sent to protect him while his father is away. As with all chases, the aim is for something that Nathan has in his possession- some encrypted code with the names of dirty CIA agents.
It takes almost half an hour before the action kicks in, the introduction that sets up Nathan's adolescent issues and his secret high-school crush on Karen pure tedium that is definitely not director John Singleton's forte. Thankfully, the pace picks up considerably once Nathan is thrust into that implausible situation, with Singleton clearly at ease setting up the film's various action sequences. One of the first that sees Nathan's 'parents' murdered is shot and edited for maximum thrills, and the climax set in a packed stadium with a live baseball match also packs suspense.
To Lautner's credit, the action also looks good because he performs most, if not all, of the stunts by himself- whether tackling a bigger- sized guy MMA-style or fleeing from the bad guys with parkour. Singleton doesn't go for the shaky-cam technique, allowing his audience to appreciate Lautner's physicality in its full glory. Even so, taking on the lead role requires Lautner to perform some serious acting in order for us to identify with his character's inner distress, but the square- jawed actor with his one-note performance fails to inspire any empathy.
The fault doesn't lie with Lautner entirely- to appeal to the teenage demographic which the producers are relying on to turn up for this movie, they have decided to amp up the obligatory romance between Nathan and Karen, even to the extent of letting the two teenage characters engage in some heavy making-out that stops just before it crosses the PG13 boundary. It is distracting and laughable, although the latter seems to be in line with most of the awful dialogue in the film.
Not even veteran stars like Isaacs, Bello, Molina, Nyqvist and Sigourney Weaver (who plays Nathan's psychologist) can redeem this at-best made- for-TV thriller that tries to be the younger version of the Bourne series. So as much as Team Jacob may wish for Lautner to be their Matt Damon, or even Tom Cruise, it is clear from his debut headlining movie that once the 'Twilight' phenomenon fades, the same can probably be said of Lautner's acting career as well.
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