John Singleton’s ABDUCTION is the type of movie not seen as often nowadays as in the past: the action star vehicle. These films, which seemed to come in an endless supply during the 1980s action star heyday, usually exist for no other reason than to promote their leading man (or occasionally woman) and their often dubious talents. Here, Taylor Lautner steps out of his supporting role in the TWILIGHT franchise and into his first starring role as Nathan, the high schooler on the run from a past he knows nothing about. As is typical of the star vehicle, Lautner’s shortcomings as an actor, not to mention those of dreadful love interest Lily Collins, are minimised by surrounding him with strong supporting players such as Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina, and, clearly having a blast as Nathan’s ‘parents’, Maria Bello and Jason Isaacs. The trick works for the most part, with Weaver being the only disappointing exception, as she delivers her lines in such an unconvincing manner, and is clearly only in it for the paycheck.
As colossally stupid as the film is, ABDUCTION moves along at a brisk pace and never feels particularly boring. There’s a certain masochistic pleasure in watching Lautner do his best to display any kind of emotion other than broody squinting, and while at times he honestly looks like he has no idea what he is doing, Singleton gives him several opportunities to take his shirt off and show the only real reason that he’s a star. Which brings me to maybe the most underwhelming aspect of this entire mess, Singleton himself. How did this filmmaker, the youngest ever to be nominated for a directing Oscar (for BOYZ IN THE HOOD), end up making this kind of throwaway teen trash? With the exception of 2001’s excellent but underseen BABY BOY, Singleton seems to have moved further and further away from the initial promise he displayed, and ABDUCTION is without question his lowest point yet. In the right crowd, it is probably a fun film with plenty to poke fun at but, much like its star, is ultimately a vapid and moronic product wrapped in a pretty package.