Abduction (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
24Sep/110

Abduction (2011)

Abduction is something of a litmus test to see if a critic is a natural optimist or assumes the most negative position in relation to a movie.  Either this is a mildly self-aware genre exercise done with tongue in cheek or a movie so haphazardly assembled from the ashes of a once great director it aches my heart to think this is the only project he could get funded.  Considering I spent most of the time giggling uncontrollably from my seat, I'll have to side with the former.

Key to note is neither one of these positions makes Abduction a particularly good movie, just something I enjoyed watching on a Saturday afternoon.  The tone barely approaches the kind of brevity your average show on the CW possesses, it's edited together in large chunks of sequences which could be told in any order, and contains action so incomprehensible any sense of space is rendered meaningless.   Considering this happens in the space of a jump kick, it does not render unto this film the strongest sense of confidence in its energy.

But the entire movie is so utterly absurd I couldn't help but smile and laugh along with or at its various problems.  The central conspiracy involves two handlers (Maria Bello and Jason Isaacs) who raised young Nathan Price (Taylor Lautner) in secret as part of a cover-up for some CIA hokum.  I can dismiss the plot so casually because, even after having listened to the in-film explanation and read the website synopsis twice I can only assume criminals have it in for staggeringly handsome youngsters.

Molina handles his own plot-twist pretty well despite his resolution coming forty minutes before the movie ends.

Nathan has been living with them under the assumption they are his parents.  This, in yet another strange plot point, raises not a single eyebrow because Lautner would have to possess every recessive trait of his parents for this to even be remotely feasible.  But I digress - eventually his life is turned upside down by Russian hit-men (Russians!  Movies forget about them so easily) and it's revealed, gasp, he is not his parents' son.  And his therapist is also a CIA Agent.  And his cell-phone is the key to world peace.  Yeah, and his neighbor is hot and tags along because hey, why not?

I just went with it.  Yes, it's preposterous but not without a certain sense of self-aware fun.  I like the fact the villains literally are faceless nobodies so screenwriter Shawn Christensen hardly bothered writing dialogue for any of them.  I especially enjoyed Alfred Molina's character, a CIA Operative tasked with getting Nathan to safety, who is laughably exasperated as he's just trying to help the kid and he keeps running away.  Finally, there is the joy of Michael Nyqvist's (Girl With/Who series) performance, containing much popcorn munching, quiet annoyance and possibly the first threat on film that contains the line "I will kill all your friends on Facebook."

I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't watching Udo Kier when Nyqvist was onscreen.

The biggest reason I stuck with it has a lot to do with Taylor Lautner.  He's still a very young talent but he's got an intensity about him is well-utilized in the Twilight series but only shows up in spurts here.  The kid likes to take risks, is young enough to do all of his own stunts, and lends a nice air of authenticity to some of the dangerous behavior onscreen.  He's apparently a well-trained martial artist as well, showcasing this is a feral fight scene with his surrogate father.

Admittedly, it is terribly bizarre someone like John Singleton got mixed up in all this.  Most of the self-aware humor must have come from his direction because this is the sort of material calls more for lurid pulp or extreme style, not the soft touch present.  He's responsible for the amazing, in its own way, Four Brothers, a gritty genre exercise if there ever was one and gives Abduction just enough style not to be boring but not enough to make it interesting visually (as if Dutch angles have ever been the height of film-making).

You get the sense with a bit of prodding in any direction this could have been a good movie instead of just one I am admitting to enjoying in spite of itself.  At the same time, any more ambition and someone might have had to write lines for the villains.  Considering how much joy Nyqvist got out of threatening online personas, maybe it's just for the best I can leave this at chuckle worthy and call it a day.

No movie can be all that bad if it contains the line "I am not going to die today.  There is a bomb in the oven" to which the bomb explodes in a fire of irony.  Somewhere, somehow, an executive approved this with a silent nod.  I hope that happened with a smile.

Abduction (2011)
Directed by John Singleton.
Written Shawn Christensen.
Starring Taylor Lautner.

Posted by Andrew

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