When the shy but short-tempered Nathan (Lautner) is paired up with girl next door Karen (Lily Collins) for a school research assignment, he is shocked to find an image of his younger self on a 'missing persons' website, prompting him to question everything he thought was normal about his life. When the cover is blown, he and Karen find themselves on the run, unable to trust anyone in their search for the truth.
Not only will I not target any more of this review towards Lautner personally, I will even concede that he does his best on what is otherwise a sinking ship from the opening scene. Naturally, his acting skills do need refinement, and I expect we're not looking at the next De Niro here, but his occasionally lackluster delivery is simply a branch of a much bigger problem- the script.
As an unapologetic actioner, it should be expected that Abduction possesses some of the clunky dialogue clichés associated with the genre. These include, but are not limited to 'trust has to be earned', 'I'm not leaving without her' and perennial favourite 'wait how do you know my name?', which is actually used more than once. But among these tired expressions is a handful of headscratchers; lines intended to act as cool quips but possessing an undoubtedly cringe-worthy aftertaste. For example, after Gerry (Sigourney Weaver) helps Nathan escape using balloons to cover security cameras (a la Ocean's Eleven) she releases them with the deadpan, utterly serious line of 'I hate balloons'. So you see my point.
The set pieces are just as ludicrous, asking the viewer to buy into the movie too much when we have not been given any reason to engage with the plot in the first place. In one instance, we bear witness to a CIA agent (operating undercover as a suburban housewife) easily take out two trained assassins. The climax set at a baseball game is a storytelling train wreck, fraught with inconsistencies and overly convenient outcomes. At the very least, I hoped a film set in Pittsburgh would show some love for the mighty Steelers instead of the lowly Pirates, but I digress.
General flaws in logic and realism are other aspects that can be attributed to this type of movie without having them become a major concern. Often, we tend to overlook moments which would result in serious injury for the hero in real life simply because he's just that, a hero. I'm also willing to pass these moments off, but in Abduction they occur so often, and on such a noticeable scale that they severely detract from any engagement with the film that could be developed as it progresses, and therein lies its greatest letdown.
I commend the satisfactory action scenes, which minimised the kind of close-up, rapid camera movement that has drawn the bulk of my ire in recent months. Also, I was pleased to see the film show a bit of gumption by avoiding an entirely happy, alls-well-that-ends-well conclusion, but these upsides are not enough to sweeten what is otherwise an inherently flawed film.
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