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Saturday, February 18, 2012




During the opening scenes of Abduction, which involve Taylor Lautner getting drunk at a high school party, the credit "Directed by John Singleton" appears. It's jarring when one suddenly remembers: this is the same John Singleton who directed Boyz n the Hood 20 years ago. And now he's directing Abduction, where in the very next scene he's obligated to show Taylor Lautner shirtless to appease his fans from the Twilight movies who expect to ogle Lautner's pecs and abs. One imagines when Abduction was pitched to the studios, it went something like, "Imagine Jason Bourne, but as a teenager who whines and cries a lot."  

Lautner plays a 17 year old who lives in the rich part of Pittsburgh. He has a MILF for a mom, Maria Bello, and a tender hearted tough guy bully for a dad, Jason Issacs, who beats him up in the backyard in fatherly sparring sessions. Neither of his parents seem to do anything; but a school project involving researching missing persons websites (huh?) allows Lautner to make a startling discovery - they're not his real parents. They're spies of some sort who've been raising him. Moments later, they are dead when Russian agents come calling, and soon, their house is blown up. 

Lautner finds himself on the run along with the hottie next door he loves, Lily Collins, who got caught up in all of this. Luckily, her parents are out of the country, so she doesn't have a curfew. They are chased by the evil agents lead by Michael Nyqvist from the Swedish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo films, but can Lautner trust seemingly friendly CIA agent Alfred Molina? What do they all want from Lautner? A list of spies who sold state secrets. Yawn. It turns out Lautner is nothing particularly special; he's not a specially trained agent or America's hidden secret weapon or anything like that. The Russians just wanted to kidnap him to draw out his real father who had the list, which was on an old cell phone Lautner comes into possession of. Lautner hardly even does any fighting or any crazy acrobatics for the first hour, saving most of the derring-do for the underwhelming final showdown with Nyqvist. Lautner mostly just poses, clinches his jaw, and makes goo goo eyes at Collins, who cuts him off at first base during their first make out session. Nor does Lautner kill the bad guy; his real daddy Dermot Mulroney saves his ass in the end.

Abduction is a mild tweeny thrill ride of no consequence, with a train sequence that invites comparisons to the infinitely superior From Russia With Love and then suffers greatly for having the gall to invoke classic James Bond. As a babyfaced action hero, Lautner is a stoic piece of plywood, unless called upon to make with the waterworks, which he's more than game for. A couple of funny parts of Abduction, besides all of the unintentionally funny stuff: Lautner and Nyqvist parlay at a Pittsburgh Pirates game and Nyqvist confesses he doesn't understand baseball. Lautner fails to explain baseball to him so maybe he doesn't understand baseball either. The biggest howler when Nyqvist makes a threat that'll reach the target teen audience and promises to kill every single one of Lautner's Facebook friends. If it were me, well, I'd like to see him try. In fact, I'll give him a list to get him started.