A movie title, hypothetically, should function like a headline. It must be catching. It needs to provide information about the story at hand. Naturally, it should be relevant to the narrative the film proposes to unfold. When a film's title has not one of the above qualities, as is the case with the recent thriller “Abduction,” it is a clear signifier of a dire case of dissociative identity disorder and a certain sign to avoid such a film at all costs.
Perhaps the producers and director, John Singleton of “Boyz n the Hood” and “2 Fast 2 Furious” fame, of “Abduction” were attempting a cunning slight of hand with their choice of a name. Imagine the pitch Mr. Singleton must have made: “It will be a thriller called “Abduction,” but there will not be a single kidnapping, not a single hostage situation, not a solitary instance of anyone whisked away under duress at all. Audiences will walk away mystified.”
This reviewer certainly left the theater bamboozled after the roughly hundred minutes he spent watching this latest vehicle for the rising star of Taylor Lautner. He is pained to report to the “Twilight” fangirls of Jeju island that Mr. Lautner's meteoric rise from his inauspicious beginnings in “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D” may have peaked in the “Twilight” series. Without the equally appalling acting chops of a Kristen Stewart by his side, Mr. Lautner's innate lack of talent shines too brightly to be ignored in his latest film.
The fault, however, for Mr. Lautner's agonizingly atrocious performance in “Abduction” does not rest solely on his shoulders. Bearing the load with him is Shawn Christiensen, a young screenwriter and short film actor with little compositional experience, but an impressive portrait on the Internet Movie Database, to his name. The script of “Abduction” is abominable fluff with dialogue so malevolently awful that this reviewer found himself wishing he was watching it dubbed, preferably in an obscure tribal language dominated by click consonants.
To recount any of the wafer-thin narrative of “Abduction” would be a shameful waste of deceased trees, but let this point be reiterated: there are no abductions in “Abduction.” If you are a kidnapping aficionado, steer clear, because this film's title is an outright prevarication. The film clearly aspires to be a pseudo-spy thriller in the vein of “Taken” (notice, the suitable and fitting use of a one word title), but falls leagues short of other recent success in the genre. See this movie only with a large carton of popcorn and an equal amount of patience for senseless action and low production values.
Multiple scenes in this movie highlight a trend that has been developing in mainstream Hollywood filmmaking over the past few years. While product placement has been a mainstay of features since the 1980's, Apple seems to have taken the concept to new heights. This may be an insensitive time to level this criticism, in the wake of Mr. Jobs' passing, but it is truly nauseating to watch the scene in the bedroom of Mr. Lautner's character in which two Macbooks and an Apple desktop computer are ostentatiously visible. This flubbed moment is followed closely by a truly forced scene with an iPad in a lunchroom that would wow even Coca-Cola executives. (Though, not to worry, Coke has quite a presence in “Abduction” as well). Clearly, Apple knows impressionable teenagers remain the backbone of its market, but it would be gracious if Mr. Jobs' successors decided to dial back Apple's ubiquitous and often distracting presence on the silver screen.
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