Abduction

What it's about:

When Nathan (Taylor Lautner) finds an old baby photo of his on a missing persons website, he soon finds his life unravelling as he tries to hunt down the truth behind who he really is.

What we thought:


I like trashy thrillers. Indeed, I dare say that the less seriously a thriller takes itself, the more likely I am to get behind it. It's why I will always prefer the ludicrous nonsense of something like the Liam Neeson vehicle Unknown to the more dramatically daring but overly serious and tonally inconsistent The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (glorified Bond villains and brutal sexual violence make for very uncomfortable bed-fellows). I love bonkers plot twists, explosive set-pieces, camp villains, head-kicking action and, of course, that complete and utter suspension of disbelief that these one-man-against-the-world thrillers thrive on.

Why then do I not like Abduction? It has everything that I could want from a B-grade action thriller. Pulverising punch-ups? Check. Unbelievably mad plot twists? Check again. Impressive actors playing impressively shadowy authority figures? You betcha. Reality defying non-logic in everything from its idiotic set up to its how-the-hell-did-we-get-here denouement? Check, check and check again. This is exactly the sort of film that will be called everything from "preposterous" to "idiotic" as the reviews start pouring in. So, again, why do I not love the ever loving heck out of this most trashy of trash-thrillers?

Simple. Everything that is wrong with the film can be summed up in two simple words: "Taylor" and "Lautner". See, it's all very well for a thriller to scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to everything from coherent storytelling to good taste but it needs a solid leading man (or woman) in which to anchor all the madness. It doesn't matter if it's an A-list actor vamping it up (pretty much everyone in last year's Red) or the gruff charms of someone like Jason Statham kicking up a storm in the delicious guilty pleasure that is the thoroughly MAD Crank 2. It doesn't matter how far beyond the reaches of logic, good taste and quality these B-movies fall, as long as they have a  compelling hero to root for, they can pretty much get away with most anything.

That Lautner is not a good actor isn't particularly surprising given his past work (he is, by a country mile, the worst of the three main actors in the Twilight films) but, when you consider the acting talents – or lack thereof – of some of cinema's most beloved action heroes, that's almost besides the point. Lautner may have the pecs to bring in the teenage girls and he may have the physical ability to successfully pull off the film's action set-pieces but he is entirely – and I do mean entirely – lacking in those three most important of important characteristics that make great screen heroes: charm, charisma and screen presence.  
                
In those rare moments that the film concentrates on the likes of Jason Isaacs, Mara Bello, Sigourney Weaver or Alfred Molina there are pleasures to be found in its nutso plotting and surprisingly dynamic direction but the minute the camera returns to Lautner, the whole thing grinds to a screeching halt. This film might make some money off Twilight fans eager to see their favourite lupine ninny in absolutely anything but, quite unlike the increasingly impressive Kristen Stewart, I honestly can't see Abduction and its star having much of a shelf-life once the final Twilight film is but a distant memory.

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