Two decades ago John Singleton wrote and directed the Oscar nominated Boys N the Hood, and a mere six years after his last feature was released, he has returned with what can only described as a terribly generic action thriller. Abduction brings together deplorable acting, a terrible script and an unoriginal idea which is executed poorly. Viewing this film is the cinematic equivalent of watching a car crash in slow-motion, the audience observes the disaster and devastation unfold on-screen, but the only way for them to avoid this horrifying event is to simply vacate their theater seat and approach the box office for a welcome refund on the admission price of their ticket.
Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner) is your typical teenage boy, but when he is paired with his long-time crush Karen (Lily Collins) on a sociology project, his life begins to unravel as they find his picture on a missing children’s website. Nathan and Karen are left to fend for themselves as they find themselves in the cross-hairs of a major Eastern European criminal, whilst they must also decide whether or not to trust the CIA operative Frank Burton (Alfred Molina) who insists that he is there to help the young couple. What follows is an hour and a half of action sequences involving a teenage boy who not only manages to outsmart many experienced villains, but also the Central Intelligence Agency.
Generic, conventional, and unoriginal. Just a few words one could use to describe the narrative of Abduction, it’s incredibly surprising that Shawn Christensen’s script was sold to Lionsgate for an estimated one million dollars due to its preposterous and unintentionally hilarious nature. One particularly terrible scene takes place just after Nathan’s ‘parents’ (Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello) have been murdered, as an injured henchman tells the young couple; “I’m not going to die here… there’s a bomb in the oven.” Seconds later, they reach the oven which contains the stereotypical bomb with visible timer before the house is blown into smithereens. While this is just one of many examples, let’s give Mr. Christensen his dues, it is not always his script that sends the film into an infinite hallway of absurdity. Lautner’s performance also readily helps this aspect along.
The young Twilight star has so far unfortunately only developed two facial expressions, one which displays his tight-lipped macho bravado and the other his wide-eyed smile that has made thousands of Twi-hards swoon. This is most evident in the scene briefly after they have avoided the bomb in the oven as CIA operative Frank Burton contacts the young man. Asking how he is feeling after he has just watched his parents being murdered, his face remains expressionless as he nonchalantly mentions that he is ok. Facial expressions, emotions and acting in general seem to have been excluded from Singleton’s reasoning during the direction of this film, because even the experienced Alfred Molina, Maria Bello, and Sigourney Weaver are shown to be seemingly phoning-in their performances as they no doubt realized the kind of production they had unfortunately become a part of.
Abduction should be a film which is written about and praised alongside the likes of Airplane! and Young Frankenstein, because it is the perfect spoof of the action-thriller genre, encompassing every single cliché together with a laughable script and incredibly dubious acting. Yet the sad thing is the fact that this film is not a parody but is instead an entirely serious motion picture. John Singleton’s latest offering does leave the audience pondering one of life’s most difficult questions however: why was this film commissioned for theatrical distribution?