Details: (M), 106 mins, In Cinemas 22 September 2011, United States, English
Synopsis: When Nathan Price (Taylor Lautner) stumbles upon an image of himself as a little boy on a missing persons website, he realises that his parents are not his own and his life is a lie. As Nathan starts to search for his true identity and his biological parents, he is targeted by a team of trained agents, forcing him on the run with his neighbour, Karen (Lily Collins). He begins to realise that his fabricated life is hiding a dangerous truth.
Bourne leaves no legacy for Singelton’s asinine thriller.
Eight days before Abduction debuted in the US, director John Singleton boasted that a sequel is a certainty, regardless of how the action-thriller performs at the box office.
“I don't think we have to worry about that," Singleton told the Los Angeles Times. "It's happening."
That’s a big, bold call from a filmmaker who hadn’t made a movie since 2005’s Four Brothers which grossed $92 million worldwide, a modest return for its $45 million budget.
Well John, I’ll be stunned if Lionsgate writes you a cheque for Abduction 2 or Abducted Again or Still Abducted or whatever you care to call it after this sloppy, risibly far-fetched and unconvincing effort.
The least you’d expect from the director of Boyz in the Hood, Rosewood, Shaft and Baby Boy (2 Fast 2 Furious was pure popcorn) is a modicum of intelligence, style and flair.
Very little of that is evident in the screenplay by rookie Shawn Christensen, or in the performances – despite contributions from several distinguished actors; the action sequences are derivative and unexciting.
Clearly Shane is a big fan of the Jason Bourne franchise because his film shamelessly borrows from that franchise’s hook of a guy who’s frantically searching for his real identity.
Proving he can’t yet carry a movie on his admittedly broad shoulders, Taylor Lautner is barely adequate as Nathan Harper, a high school student who spots a photo of what looks like him at the age of 3 ½, on a missing persons website.
Nathan confronts his mother Mara (Maria Bello), who tearfully confirms she’s not his mum but she loves him as a son and nothing changes. Mara doesn’t get the chance to continue because two bad guys burst into the house and, after a perfunctory struggle, kill her and her supposed husband Kevin (Jason Isaacs). Nathan gets involved but manages to flee just after a dying goon helpfully tells him there’s a bomb in the oven and it’s about to explode.
It’d be no fun on the run by yourself and every young hero needs a romantic interest so for company, Nathan has his sort-of girlfriend/neighbour Karen (Lily Collins).
Nathan calls 911 but is patched through to Alfred Molina as CIA agent Frank Burton, who, amazingly, has access to technology which enables him to follow the lad wherever he goes. Sigourney Weaver poses as Dr Bennett, a psychiatrist who’d been treating Nathan for anger management, impulsive behaviour and a recurring dream of a woman being attacked (a heavy hint from the screenwriter). She turns up at just the right time to warn Nathan he can’t trust Burton and she helps the lad and Karen escape from the clutches of the CIA and another posse of baddies who have been despatched by a ruthless Serbian freelance intelligence operative named Kozlow (a stony faced Michael Nyqvist). Somehow the baddies are able to bug all communications between Nathan and the CIA.
It turns out Nathan has something valuable that had been stolen from Kozlow, who wants it back and is prepared to kill indiscriminately to get it. There follows an extended chase sequence, the obligatory battle to the death on a speeding train, and a shoot-out in which the highly trained CIA forces leave themselves exposed and thus make easy pickings for Kozlow’s goons. Oh, and there’s time for a brief and passionless Nathan-Karen pash before hostilities resume.
The finale is as boringly predictable and detached from reality as the rest of the movie.
As for Lautner, well it’s an understatement to say he’s no Matt Damon and thus any comparison with the Bourne character is pointless. Shorn of his werewolf persona, Taylor displays a limited range of emotions and reacts rather than acts. He rips his shirt off once, which is unlikely to satisfy Twilight fans.
Collins is bland and unengaging, not helped by a screenplay which asks her to switch in an instant from being an understandably frightened, out-of-her-depth teenager into a calm, polished accomplice of Nathan’s.
Molina huffs and puffs and struts around barking orders, drawing on very little of his formidable talent. Weaver gets a nice maternal moment with Taylor and chimes in with a piece of exposition. So impressive in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy and in Swedish pics such as Suddenly, Nyqvist is wasted, handicapped by having almost no dialogue initially before being lumbered with a ludicrous speech explaining his motivation.
Could this botched thriller really mark the beginning of a Bourne-like franchise? Say it ain’t so, Lionsgate.
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