Teenager Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner) has had the uneasy feeling that he's been living someone else's life for as long as he can remember, as he confesses to his shrink (Sigourney Weaver). When he stumbles on an image of himself as a boy on a 'missing persons' website, Nathan realises his parents are not his own. He barely has time to absorb the new information when he is thrust into a deadly world of covert espionage, targeted by a team of trained killers, forcing him on the run with the only person he can trust, his neighbour and would-be sweetheart, Karen (Lily Collins). Complicating matters is the intervention of the CIA under Frank Burton (Alfred Molina) who may or may not be genuinely concerned for his safety.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The notion of discovering a secret about yourself on the internet is a great premise on which to build a thriller, especially one whose central character is a teen. Twilight-launched Taylor Lautner gets his first genuine, gold plated leading role as Nathan, the teen who discovers that he was adopted by the people he thought were his parents. But the story isn't something out of that excellent, fact based drama, Oranges and Sunshine, where the identity of the parents is the all-important thing. In Shawn Christensen's cleverly structured screenplay, it's why he isn't living with his biological parents that gives the film its impetus.
The early scenes establish Nathan as a typical teenager, doing risky, stupid things on motorised transport, getting drunk and passing out. His dad (Jason Isaacs) makes him train his boxing skills even when hung over - and we later learn there is a good reason for this.
The film then jumps into real thriller mode and piles on the tension right to the end, as Nathan is dragged into deadly danger. Rogue black ops agent Kozlow (Michael Nyqvist in grim good form as a nasty) wants him as a bargaining chip - and for a top secret list of agents, which the CIA is also keen to obtain.
We learn bits and pieces of Nathan's past as it relates to his parents, all the while he and Karen (Lily Collins) are on the run, but not unobserved. Collins does well as the teenager thrust into this drama, albeit there is not much demanded of her. The surrounding support cast of top notch talent such as Maria Bello and Jason Isaacs, Alfred Molina and Sigourney Weaver, help make Lautner look good. And he does once take off his shirt, but director John Singleton chooses to show only a modest portion of his now famous torso.
Also worth a mention is Denzel Whitaker as Nathan's friend and ally Gilly, who shows great promise even with the little screen time he has.
Singleton tackles the film like a Jason Bourne thriller, much to Lautner's joy; it's his reported dream to play such a role. The film offers an undemanding, escapist 106 minutes, with a variety of stunts and chases. There are a couple of surprises and a few slightly cheesy moments, but it essentially does what it is meant to.
Published first in the Sun Herald
Review by Louise Keller:
Taylor Lautner fans may not mind that his facial expressions are limited, or that the highly improbable script is peppered with inanities and corny dialogue. In fact, there was a stream of laughter from the preview audience as lines like 'Everyone around me is dying'; 'A few days ago we were just high school kids' and 'I feel like a stranger in my life' were delivered. Laughter is probably not what the filmmakers are hoping for in this action thriller that often borders on the ridiculous, despite Lautner being surrounded by a solid supporting cast with good credentials.
Abduction is a wanna-be Bourne Identity, with Lautner playing out his acting fantasy. He is the fun-loving college kid who inadvertently becomes the hero when his life is turned upside down after discovering his photograph on a missing persons' website when researching a Sociology assignment. The plot is so preposterous that the details hardly matter except to say that there are extravagant stunts, splashy action sequences and a taylor-made romance (sorry, couldn't resist) between Lautner and Lily Collins, who is pretty as a picture. The fact that the pair shared an off-screen romance is of course an additional boost for the target market that lives and breathes in the gossip mags. There are tight close ups of their eyes and lips and in the train sequence, when they share their first lingering and passionate kiss, two crusty blokes with bald heads and tattoos sitting in the row in front of me roared with laughter when Lautner's Nathan tells Collins' Karen he's starving.
Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello are terrific as Nathan's parents and Sigourney Weaver is a welcome presence as Nathan's sympathetic psychiatrist. There's a procession of serious men in suits including Alfred Molina and Michael Nyqvist plus some heavy thugs who are chasing Nathan as facts about their mission are revealed. As for Lautner, he takes off his shirt, runs his fingers through his thick black hair, perpetually looks concerned and sheds a few crocodile tears when required. He looks good on a motorbike wearing shades, too. Ed Shearmur's non too subtle score pounds through the action like a fanfare while John Singleton's direction is pretty ordinary throughout. All in all, Abduction is corny teen-fare for the undiscerning.
Published September 22, 2011
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CAST: Taylor Lautner, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, Sigourney Weaver, Denzel Whitaker, Michael Nyqvist, Dermot Mulroney
PRODUCER: Doug Davison, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Dan Lautner, Roy Lee, Lee Stollman
DIRECTOR: John Singleton
SCRIPT: Shawn Christensen
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Menzies Jr
EDITOR: Bruce Cannon
MUSIC: Edward Shearmur
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Keith Brian Burns
RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 22, 2011
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.