But then there is the other side to Nathan. Behind closed doors, he regularly spars with his father in physical battles that become increasingly aggressive and relentless. He also suffers from insomnia and bouts of rage, issues that he discusses with his therapist, Dr Bennett (Weaver) in regular counselling sessions. In short, he is a mixed up young man.
And if life wasn't tough already, it's about to deal him one more major bad hand. When assigned to work with Karen on a project about missing kids, Nathan's life comes crashing down around him, when he sees his face staring back from one of the ads. Suddenly he has to deal with the fact that his parents aren't who they say they are, that his whole life is built upon a lie, and that everything he thought he knew, he didn't.
It's no surprise then, that he is rather preoccupied by the time the bad guys arrive to get him. Men with guns turn up, Nathan does a runner with lusty Karen in tow, and what ensues is a cat and mouse chase across the country. It usually sees the youngsters get to one place, a phone call gets tapped, and then they move on. Then some foreign guy turns up to beat them up, they beat him up. They move on. It's quite straightforward really. Predictable to a 't'.
That's not to say that it's not entertaining. Remember in the '90s, those action movies where the ability to act was a 'would like', and the ability to kick the asses of Eastern European villains was a 'must have'?
Well, those action movies were EVERYWHERE. A corrupt government or body take on one guy who is pretty good at high kicks, and which typically ended in some mass chase-cum-action sequence, set in a massive public forum such as a football game or a crowded theatre.
That is the standard of movie we're talking here. And if we consider Lautner's performance at that level, then he didn't do too badly at all. He may still have the acting prowess of Joey Tribbiani from 'Friends', but there's also something rather watchable about him.But, my guess is that this wasn't supposed to be seen as a B movie. It feels like a botched attempt to put together a Bourne movie aimed at the teen market. But the Bourne movies appealed to the teen market, so why dumb the formulae down? One of the big failings of 'Abduction' is that rationale and reason becomes so diluted, that you have to throw all common sense out of the window, for this movie to hold together.
But that's the least of the worries. By far, the biggest problem with this movie was the script and direction which was absolutely diabolical.
The camera work seems very lazy. When chatting with his therapist, the camera just pans back and forth, back and forth between Nathan and Dr Bennett, as if the man behind the lens is filming a wedding. Scenes in the gym with the Nathan and his pals, have so much happening on screen that you don't know who to look at. But with Lautner skipping up and down off centre, in a vest and short combo, you can imagine where my eyes were focused.
The worst part - or funniest part, depending on how I look at it - was that you never felt you were watching a natural performance from anyone involved. It felt SO staged throughout. In fact, this is the first time that I have watched a movie at the cinema and literally felt like I could input the director's comments at every appropriate moment.
"Taylor, hold her in your arms. Kiss her head. Now look up to the sky." What makes me feel like this is more a direction fault is that it was not exclusive to Lautner. Even acting legend, Sigourney Weaver moves like a spasmodic marionette, and whilst she delivers her dialogue, there is no real emotion behind them.
With lines like "I hate balloons" followed by a dramatic pause, you can understand why she might not be investing everything in to this rather underused character. But if she wasn't happy with the script, she'd have not taken the role.
The romance between the two youngsters is supposed to be fledgling and, to give them their dues, there is chemistry there. However, when the pair aren't getting amorous, the dialogue is laboured and riddled with clichés that leave you either laughing out loud, or cringing in to your seat.
Karen: Two days ago, we were high school kids. That seems like a lifetime ago.
Nathan: That's because (pause) it was.
As the pace picks up, Lautner actually leaves the cocksure Nathan behind him, which comes as a relief, and indeed shows some actual character progression. A few big bangs, and action sequences are thrown in to the mix and those also help to maintain general interest levels, entertaining the audience for fleeting moments in time.
However the final denouement is a real let down. No originality. No risk. No surprise. The bog standard, by-the-book ending is as lazy as the direction and I left the cinema feeling a little bit cheated. If 'Abduction' had presented itself as the kind of movie that it ended up being, I'd have known what I was letting myself in for. This is a no-frills B-Movie. Don't let the supporting cast make you think otherwise.