Archive for March, 2013

THE DAMN REVIEW: Abduction

Ladies and gentlemen, or should I just say gentlemen because I can only assume no females read this blog? Either way…it’s been a while. It’s funny because in my years of being a conscious internet user I’ve had a handful of blogs. I’d review music, movies, TV shows, draw cartoons, or just write stuff about my life. And after a few months the blogs would just fade into obscurity and no one would care. So in October after reviewing Taken, I was really gassed out. I felt like this blog didn’t have a voice, that I was just being another annoying movie reviewer. Fast forward a few weeks after that when an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while said something to the effect of, “Hey man, I really like that action movie blog you write! What’s up next?” and the same thing happened to me quite recently, but more along the line of, “Why haven’t you been updating the blog more?” So that motivated me to sit down and turn on a flick…

A few months ago on the Shop Chillin podcast (episode #1) I explained this blog to a handful of my friends. During our conversation the Taylor Lautner vehicle Abduction was brought up and I briefly mentioned how I was certain that it wouldn’t get a good review from me. So fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was trying to find a flick to get my blog-mojo back. I thought about what bases I haven’t covered yet. I’ve done a classic with Die Hard, I’ve done an ensemble flick with the Expendables, and I’ve done a so-bad-it’s-good movie with Road House. One thing I noticed was that I hadn’t really tackled a legitimately bad action movie. And with good reason! Who wants to subject themselves to a bad movie for the sake of research? Well…the answer is me. And I did.

The first thing you need to know about Abduction is that John Singleton directed it. The guy responsible for Boyz n the Hood. Yeah. I mean, he did go on to make some less than spectacular films, but seeing his name attached to this made me breathe a sigh of relief. I thought, ‘There’s no way it can be that bad if John Singleton is attached to it.’ Oh how wrong I was. This is easily one of the worst movies that I have ever seen in my life.

The plot is relatively simple, yet entirely too convoluted for its own good. Lautner plays Nathan, a ridiculously irresponsible high school senior. He and his friends burn money, ride around in fancy cars, and crash parties in the name of rebellion. His parents, Mara and Kevin, have him on a strict regiment of extreme combat training and unreal cardio (how else can he have those abs?) to punish him for his irresponsible ways, and send him to a psychiatrist played by Sigourney Weaver to stop apparent rage issues. Great. A smart, attractive, emotionally unstable 17 year old killing machine with a devil-may-care attitude towards life. What’s not to like? Oh, and Nathan is also attracted to his neighbor Karen (Lily Collins) who is his partner in a class project. On a whim Karen and Nathan are looking at missing children websites when they find a photo of a lost child that bears a striking resemblance to Nathan himself! Struggling to figure out who his parents are, who he is, what his feeling are for Lily, Nathan does the logical thing…calls the number listed on the website.

What happens after the phone call is basically the most absurd thing I have seen in film. Some terrorists come to Nathan’s house, kill his “parents” and let the entire suburban home EXPLODE. Yes folks, no need for subtlety. Nathan and Karen escape the fiery scene and find themselves on the run from these terrorists. Also tailing them is the CIA, lead by Alfred Molina. The secrets unravel and the movie continues. And then it ends. That’s my synopsis. If it’s not detailed enough for you…I’m not sorry. That’s really all there is to it. It’s not anything special.

The plot of this movie is awful. Apparently the terrorist, a fellow named Nikola Kozlow (played by Michael Nyqvist) needs Nathan alive as a source of leverage to get some document Nathan’s biological father has just conveniently stolen from him. So think of that plot in real time, keeping in mind the events of the movie take place over a mere two or three days.

  1. Nathan’s biological father steals Kozlow’s file.
  2. Nathan finds himself on the missing child site and calls the number to investigate.
  3. Kozlow suits up and takes action. His minions blow up Nathan’s house and proceed to stalk him.
  4. CIA follows suit in stalking.
  5. Chaos.

That’s just way too convenient for me to even try to enjoy. Even ironically. It’s just bad. Flimsy writing. And apparently Alfred Molina’s character is not supposed to be trusted either, and Nathan figures him out in like 2 seconds just to keep him around in this grey area for the rest of the movie. Why have the protagonist figure out the twist and still keep the character around for the duration of the film? I have no clue.

molina“If we pretend the audience is dumber than you it will make everything move faster Nathan.”

Acting-wise this movie is an enigma. Alfred Molina is a fine actor, as is Sigourney Weaver. Not to mention Jason Isaacs plays Nathan’s adopted father. Even Nyqvist is good as Kozlow, regardless of how little he is given to work with. But Taylor Lautner is…awful. Aside from his physique, there is nothing to be impressed with in Lautner. His delivery is robotic and his facial expressions are non existent. And not to be rude, but whoever did Lily Collins’ makeup did their best to make her look like a 14 year old who is entirely average, yet the apple of Nathan’s eye. In 2011 when this movie came out, Lautner was on the fast track to being America’s favorite piece of male eye candy, and he’s paired with this run of the mill female. If all this flick meant to do was push Lautner as a star, they could have done a much better job pairing him with a female that rivaled his apparent attractiveness. Call that a minor gripe, but in a flick where the whole point is to sit back and be entertained, that’s a huge issue for the straight male audience.

abduction-taylor-lautner-lily-collins3I literally don’t remember what part of the movie this is from.

So, nit picking about females aside, let’s get down to brass tacks, the damn veggies. The action. It’s bad. Surprised? Sure, Lautner can kind of do parkour and MMA style chokes, but every time he does it’s unreal and annoying. Calling it uninspired would be a compliment. There’s a sequence in a train where Lautner goes toe to toe with a middle aged terrorist that would get his ass kicked by the 17 year old killing machine within a few seconds. Somehow the dude manages to hold his own before being choked to death and tossed out the window. And the worst part is he gets a few shots in on Nathan, like that’s even believable. The most insulting part of the film, the final nail in the coffin, is the finale. Nathan agrees to meet Nikola in a public place to give him the incriminating document. What public place does he choose? A Pittsburgh Pirates game. Really? And the final action sequence is Nathan running away from an armed Nikola…just to see him get gunned down by a sniper who is revealed to be Nathan’s birth father?! Really?! None of that MMA training gets put to use against the MAIN VILLAIN?! It’s obscene.

Don’t watch Abduction. Just don’t. I basically spoiled the whole movie anyway. I have no problem with these throwaway flicks that are just intended to boost up an actors credits, but this goes beyond that. This movie isn’t fun, it isn’t easy to watch, it isn’t even mindless enough to just turn on when you’re hungover. And I think just one more time I should mention that it stars Taylor Lautner. Just one last reminder about that for you in case you forgot. An action flick starring an actor from the Twilight series? It just doesn’t make any sense. Yuck.

So…what’s next on my plate? Let’s try another classic to get back into the groove of things. How does Predator sound?

ADDED TO THE DAMN RANKINGS: Taylor Lautner

(All photos and videos of Abduction are copyright Lionsgate films)