Saturday, September 24, 2011

Abduction - Theatrical Review


Release Date: September 23, 2011

With fame comes a lot of perks. One of those perks is that regardless of your talent or lack thereof you will eventually get your own movie. It almost seems like some sort of right of passage of sorts before you either fade into oblivion once that fame has worn off or become part of an ensemble cast television show. What fate awaits Taylor Lautner? I'm not sure but to be honest I don't really care.

Review Vital Stats:  
Theater: AMC 30 at the Block in Orange  
Time: 12:01 am September 23, 2011  
Projector Type: Digital 2D
Film Rating: PG-13 

Film Runtime: blah blah   
Studio: Lionsgate

Loves: Uhhh... 

Likes: Spy/Espionage/Action/Thrillers
Neutral: Taylor Lautner, wasting talented actors on drivel like this 

Hates: Movies that are made to capitalize on the popularity of an actor regardless of their talent 

Twice: The number of times Taylor Lautner goes shirtless

Let's get the obvious question out of the way first, why did I go see this movie? Despite never have seeing the Twilight series and not really giving a shit about Team Jacob or Team Edward the trailer for this film actually looked semi-competent as a throwaway action flick. It was directed by the once great John Singleton (remember Boyz N The Hood?) and had a supporting cast that one would hope had the smarts to stay away from such a blatant attempt to use Lautner's fame to make a quick buck. I wasn't expecting anything revolutionary but more like something to giggle at while being entertained by some trashy action scenes. To be fair here, I think the premise of the film worked out much better than I thought it would but other than a decent first act it quickly turned into a series of cliche getaway chase scenes that were connected by some of the most illogical set of events I have seen in a while that not even a good actor in the lead role could have saved it from.

Nathan (Taylor Lautner) is a free spirited and angst ridden teenager who is living a seemingly normal life. That is if you consider having your father beat the living shit out of you in what I suppose is to be sparring lessons while your mother looks on in amusement saying to herself , "My boys..." to be normal. Other than that and his frequent visits to his psychologist Dr. Bennett (Sigourney Weaver) for his violent outbursts (no shit he has anger issues, his father beats the crap out of him) and reoccurring dreams where he sees a nameless woman murdered before him (all kids have dreams like that right?), he is a pretty balanced individual who leads a somewhat normal life with his ethnically diverse friends (one of whom we see selling fake IDs and has VIP tickets to a Pittsburgh Pirates game...I wonder if those would make a reappearance...?) and the literal girl next door whom he has had a crush on his entire life but is too shy to do anything about it. This reality comes crashing down however when he discovers that his parents are not really his parents and suddenly there are hitmen and government agents tracking him down everywhere he goes.

Team Jacob rules man.

I am about to give this movie a whole lot of shit but I do have one positive thing to say about it before I get there. No matter who they would have gotten to play the lead role in this film it would have ended badly regardless. Taylor Lautner is not really at fault here beyond signing on to such a one note and banal piece of Hollywood fluff as this. I can't knock the guy for trying to make a career outside the series that made him a star but he had better start picking better scripts and fast. Now if the one and only redeeming thing I had to say about this movie is that the lead actor is not at fault for how much it blows then imagine if you will what lies ahead from here on out.

Not to sound too hypocritical here but even though I let Lautner off the hook for how bad this movie is that doesn't mean he had no part to play in it's suck-i-tude. Between his cromagnon looks and zero on screen personality I still can't see what the big deal is with this guy. He does the party guy act justice and is a pretty physical guy (from what I could tell he did a lot of his own stunts in this) but whenever he tries to emote or be sincere it all just feels so wooden and forced. He is somewhat believable during the first act of the film when he is doing his high school jock routine, aside from his awkward attempts at being...awkward, but when the story shifts gears and we get into the spy/thriller second act he is tasked with trying to act disoriented, badass, emotionally hurt and vulnerable all at the same time and poor Lautner just doesn't have the acting chops to pull that sort of complexity off. Most of the time he just looks stoked to be in his own action movie.

Ok...I have a real problem with this girl's eyebrows...

Enough about Lautner though, let's get into what really makes this movie stink more than a pile of shit stacked on a plate of turd dumplings. The first thing I would like to mention is how this movie treats its audience like complete and utter dumbasses. Saying it has plot holes the size of Texas and story arcs that either don't make any sense or don't amount to anything is putting it lightly. It takes some pretty huge balls on the filmmakers part to assume that their audience would be stupid enough to not pick this thing apart. The movie tries to trick you at first though by having most of the opening scenes work in a way I wasn't expecting. I have to give most of the credit for that to the actors surrounding Lautner though and not to the film itself.

You have Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello playing the parents of Nathan, both of whom are extremely gifted actors that put way more effort into their roles than was necessary, but I appreciated it. Then you have Sigourney Weaver (what the hell is she doing in this?) who is put next to Lautner for every one of her scenes which only re-enforces the fact that Lautner is not a very good actor. Those actors made the early moments of the film work, when we see Isaacs punish his son for partying too hard the night before he makes us believe that he not only cares for his son but that there is an ulterior motive to his disciplinary action. Then you have Bello who has the motherly role of comforting her son but later when the truth is revealed about Nathan's history she just totally owns every scene she is in. If these actors were throughout the entire film then maybe it wouldn't have been so bad, but...

Yes, they are watching a security cam that has the same view we do.

The problem is that Isaacs, Bello and Weaver are taken out of the picture fairly early on once the real story starts and that only leaves us with Lautner and his would be girlfriend Karen (Lily Collins) who has the thickest and most mesmerizing pair of eyebrows I have ever seen. Seriously, every time she is on screen I would just find my gaze drifting to those bushy wonders above her eyes. I can't even properly comment on her performance because half the time I just wasn't paying attention due to those damn eyebrows. I am not usually the type of person that would sum an actor or actress up by a physical feature but I can't help it, they haunt me still even after a couple days. Anyways, so yeah we lose the three best actors in the film in the first 20 to 30 minutes and get this pair of tree stumps to follow for the next hour or so, oh joy.

But this is where the movie goes from borderline moronic to completely idiotic. Anyone that has read my reviews for films like The Next Three Days will know all too well how I feel about what I like to call the super sleuth. What is a super sleuth? Well it is somebody that has some kind of super human power to know a character's location at all times. This is usually aided by story contrivances that are never explained but help our super sleuth keep up with the people on the run. So, when Nathan and Karen are finally running for their lives they have two separate groups chasing after them, the CIA led by Agent Burton (Alfred Molina) and some Russian bad guys led by your standard everyday bad dude called Kozlow (Michael Nyqvist). Why they would run away from the CIA still remains a mystery to me, I know that Bennett told them to avoid the CIA but even that makes no sense since SHE WORKS FOR THE CIA TOO!

Seriously now...what is up with those eyebrows!

Anyway, so how does a writer for a film make it so that our main character is constantly being found where ever he goes? It's simple really, all you have to do is wish for it to happen and it happens. Seriously, I'm not joking around here. When Nathan arrives at a hospital and makes a phone call to the police just mere minutes after his house explodes, the CIA has already compromised the PAY PHONE at the hospital and Burton talks to him immediately. How did Burton know Nathan would take Karen to ANY hospital let alone the one he was at? But it gets better, only after being in our country for an hour tops, the Russian bad guys have already tapped into the CIA phone lines...WHAAA....? That's right apparently the CIA is getting pretty relaxed on their whole security thing but they sure can find a teenager when they need to. But how else would they be able to explain that the Russians are able to find Nathan all the time?

So the Russian guys get consistent updates on Nathan's whereabouts whenever the CIA does. But how does the CIA get their intel? Once again they make a wish and it happens. Nathan and Karen drive out of state to a graveyard and boom!, they're there. Nathan and Karen ditch their car and through Nathan's friend Gilly (Denzel Whitaker) get some fake IDs (see I told you that those IDs would make sense) and board a random train and boom!, the Russians have tracked them down. This last bit is an important one because there was no way in hell anyone could have ever tracked them to that train. The guy that finds them was driving around random streets looking for them and then he magically appears on the train platform just in time to see them boarding...? Bullshit.

Lautner is trying out for the next Michael Bay movie it seems.

Then the whole idea that the CIA is to not be trusted is thrown out the window in an appropriately ludicrous fashion. Remember that Nathan has been running from them for over 24 hours now and every time they get close he runs which is what he was told to do. What wears him down you ask? A f**king hamburger and milkshake. That's right, just as Nathan and Karen are running up a hill Burton yells out to him to stop running and come eat a burger with him...and Nathan does it! At this point nothing any of the characters did made a lick of sense to me. I suppose we were to believe that Nathan was smart enough to use this opportunity to get some information but it is never explained how he was planning on getting away again. But then he is saved by an attack by the Russian bad guys who have taken out over a dozen guards before making their presence known which was pointless because even when one of the CIA guys knows his people are dead HE NEVER CALLS IT IN! We see a look of shock on his face and then a cut back to Burton and Nathan chowing down. You would expect a call to come over the radio but nope...a full minute goes by and then suddenly we see him running towards the restaurant FINALLY shouting that they are under attack..what the hell was he doing for that minute?

This movie is an exercise in mediocrity and laziness with some of the biggest lapses of logic I have ever seen. There are so many moments of stupidity that I could recount that it boggles my mind but the fact that these issues are coupled with a lackluster leading man and a story that's only original idea is to have it's finale take place at a Pirates baseball game (see there, those tickets came in handy as well), which to my knowledge is the first time that team has been featured in a movie ever, is really kind of sad. They were even kind enough to throw in some racism by having Nathan's one BLACK friend be the guy that not only supplies him with the fake IDs but also a gun! Now there is one thing I didn't mention come to think of it which is the story itself...why Nathan is so important that all these different people need to find him. To be honest it is completely pointless. It had something to do with a phone that had names of bad people on it and Nathan was the key to it and...what the hell ever. None of that matters and none of my bitching matters. This movie was made for Team Jacob fans and if the favorable reactions I was hearing from the tweens and middle-aged moms in the theater were any indication I think it succeeded at that at least. I cannot recommend this movie though, not even to the Jacobneers out there. I guess it would be a decent rental if all you are looking for is to see Taylor Lautner shirtless a couple of times and do some jump kicks. Everyone else out there would be wise to...




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