Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 106 minutes
Age Appropriate for: 14+. Teen drinking, spy-on-spy murder and some suggested sexual content. But it never goes fully into risqué or gore; young teens will be familiar with most of this.
Taylor Lautner tries to be a young Tom Cruise with ‘Abduction,’ his first foray out of the ‘Twilight’ franchise. Too bad he lacks the young Cruise’s boundless charm — and acting talent.
By Roxana Hadadi
Taylor Lautner is wholly objectified in the “Twilight” film series as the werewolf Jacob, him of the rippling abs and perpetually absent shirt.
By Roxana Hadadi
Taylor Lautner is wholly objectified in the “Twilight” film series as the werewolf Jacob, him of the rippling abs and perpetually absent shirt. I’ve seen girls cry while wearing T-shirts with his face on them. But as a real human boy in “Abduction,” Lautner just can’t get humanity quite right.
It’s weird, but he’s just so unbelievable as a regular teenager! Something about Lautner’s lupine face, his flat voice and almost mechanical fighting style make him seem off in “Abduction,” the teen thriller supposed to help jettison Lautner past “Twilight” and into his own realm (much like “Water for Elephants” was supposed to do for Robert Pattinson, who plays Jacob’s nemesis Edward in the “Twilight” films). But every completely absurd plot twist, every improbable fight, can’t bring more emotion into Lautner’s performance. He’s a robot. A really, really muscular robot.
We know Nathan (Lautner) is a reckless teenager when we’re introduced to him riding on the hood of a pickup truck, encouraging its driver to accelerate to 70 mph, to give Nathan more of a thrill as the truck winds through one-lane highways in suburban Pennsylvania. His underage drinking at a raging house party cements his haphazard personality, but he’s also a nice guy who sticks around to help the girls clean up after everyone else has left. He still seems bad when he spars with his parents, Kevin (Jason Isaacs) and Mara (Maria Bello), who worry that his bad decisions are messing up his boxing and training regimen, but then he seems nice when he’s defending his neighbor Karen (Lily Collins), whom he’s pined after for years, from her aggressive older boyfriend. He’s conflicted between good and bad! So torn!
Nathan is rapidly forced to grow up, though, when he sees a picture of himself on a missing children’s website and discovers he’s been adopted. “Inside, I just feel different, like I’m a stranger in my own life,” Nathan previously told his therapist, Dr. Bennett (Sigourney Weaver), and his fears are confirmed when he learns from Kevin and Mara that they aren’t his parents — and they’re immediately killed by Russian bad guys invading his home. Forced to flee his neighborhood with Karen in tow, Nathan goes on the run, struggling to figure out who he really is and why those heavily armed assassins are chasing him.
You would think his off-on relationship with Karen would take a backseat to all this danger, but of course not! His dedication to keeping her safe proves what a great, selfless guy he is, much like Jacob in “Twilight.” At least Lautner, with his propensity for acting in films where he saves pretty girls, knows his demographic.
But is the film really appropriate for shrieking fans of the “Twilight” series — or anyone else? It’s such a poorly constructed “thriller,” full of plot holes and unresolved conflicts, that the ending (which sets up a sequel) seems amazingly ahead of itself. Crowds of bad guys are chasing Nathan, then they mysteriously disappear. One bad guy viciously fights Nathan in a train compartment, but despite being far heavier and taller than the teen — and smashing his head through a window — ends up losing the fight because Nathan somehow knocks off his glasses. And when Nathan learns the truth about his past, he (somehow within like, two minutes) processes it, is OK with it and then just moves on. Lines like, “I just saw my parents get murdered … in front of my eyes!” don’t help him show any acting range, either. Remember what I said about him being a robot? It’s like the role demands Lautner to be as passionless as possible.
The film is too, of course. “Abduction,” like its star, goes through the motions of being something better than it is. But it’s all gloss and slickness, nothing more substantial than those abs of Lautner’s.