out of Five
Running time: 106
For the first hour, this is an energetic and enjoyable thriller with decent performances, a nice sense of pace and an intriguing plot set-up, but the reveal is so mind-numbingly stupid that it stops the film in its tracks and it gets progressively worse from that point onwards.
What's it all about?
Directed by John Singleton, Abduction is essentially a star vehicle for Twilight hunk Taylor Lautner. He plays anger-prone Pittsburgh teenager, Nathan, who finds a picture of himself as a kid on a missing children website while working on a school project with childhood crush Karen (Lily Collins) and realises that his weirdly intense parents (Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello) are not who they say they are.
However, the devastated teen barely has time to confront his mother before his house is blown up and both his parents are killed by mysterious agents, so Nathan goes on the run with Karen, only to discover that a CIA boss (Alfred Molina) seems to know where he is at all times. Meanwhile, a sinister foreign agent (Michael Nyqvist) is also hot on their trail. Does Nathan's shrink (Sigourney Weaver) hold the answers?
The first half of the film is actually a lot of fun: the plot set-up is intriguing and Singleton keeps things moving at a decent pace with some nicely staged action scenes, most notable a lengthy sequence on a train that practically screams Hitchcock. The performances are fine too: Lautner doesn't have much range but he's likeable enough and he holds his own in both the physical scenes and the emotional moments - he also has good chemistry with Collins, though her character isn't given much to do other than tag along and look cute.
Unfortunately, the film's problems start the moment that the plot-driving object (or, sticking with the Hitchcockery, the MacGuffin) is revealed, because it's so mind-numbingly stupid that it instantly kills any suspense while failing to really justify the effort and misery that it has caused. The script seems to know this too, because from that point onwards the dialogue becomes worse and worse, to the point where it's actually laughable – for example, at one point Nathan and Karen joke about their unforgettable first date, ignoring the fact that this was a first date in which, um, Nathan's fake-but-still-loving parents got killed.
By the same token, the third act of the film lacks any of the energy displayed earlier on and the climax is extremely underwhelming as a result.
As star vehicles for teen hunks go, Abduction is watchable enough but it's ultimately let down by a poorly conceived, badly written and ultimately laughable third act.