[Screen It]

"ABDUCTION"
(2011) (Taylor Lautner, Sigourney Weaver) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Action: A Pennsylvania teen goes on the run after learning his parents are really CIA operatives assigned to protect him from his real father's enemies.
PLOT:
Nathan (TAYLOR LAUTNER) is a Pennsylvania teenager who parties too hard; gets into frequent arguments with his mom and dad, Mara and Kevin (MARIA BELLO and JASON ISAACS, respectively); and has a long-time crush on Karen (LILY COLLINS), the pretty girl who lives across the street from him who has a verbally abusive boyfriend named Billy (ALLEN WILLIAMSON). He also has recurring nightmares and thoughts of a woman murdered in front of his eyes when he was just a young child. He shares these memories with his therapist, Dr. Bennett (SIGOURNEY WEAVER), who tells him they are nothing to worry about.

Nathan's life is thrown into turmoil after he spots what he thinks is a photo of himself as a child on a missing persons website. He clicks on a feature that allows the software to approximate what that child would look like today and is shocked to find that it's a picture of his face. He confronts Mara, and she confesses that she and Kevin are not his biological parents.

Not long after, armed gunmen storm the house and kill both adults. Nathan learns that Kevin and Mara were really CIA operatives assigned to protect him from his real father's enemies. Even Dr. Bennett is a CIA plant. Not knowing who to trust, he goes on the run with Karen staying in contact only with his school friend, Gilly (DENZEL WHITAKER). A determined CIA operative named Burton (ALFRED MOLINA) and a vicious international assassin named Nicola Koslow (MICHAEL NYQVIST) are hot on Nathan's trail, though, and the boy is unaware that his cell phone contains an encrypted file that could incriminate both men.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits.

"Abduction" is a dumb movie made by people who thought they were shooting a smart movie. And that makes it doubly laughable. First of all, the flick isn't even about an abduction. Seriously! The lead was never abducted! The character, Nathan (Taylor Lautner), learns via a missing persons website that the man and woman he thought were his real parents are not. But a few scenes later, after the two are murdered by gunmen right before his eyes, he learns that they didn't abduct him or buy him off the black market as a baby. They were CIA operatives assigned to protect him after his birth mother was killed and his super-spy biological daddy needed to keep him safe.

From there, the movie travels down a bumpy road full of plot holes and left-turn logic that will have many in the audience chuckling at the idiocy of the various characters and situations. This is a spy thriller as if it had been written by a high-school freshman, and how this managed to attract the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Jason Isaacs, Alfred Molina, and Maria Bello to assemble to carry the "Twilight" kid's luggage for 100 minutes of screen time, I'll never know. Oh right. Hollywood paychecks.

The film is not a total waste, though. Much of the action is centered in Pittsburgh, a city not often shown in films, and the climax at a Pirates home baseball game is at least visually interesting. Also, the main bad guy issues a great threat at one point, telling Nathan that he'll kill every single one of his Facebook friends if he doesn't hand over an encrypted computer file. If the film had employed a lighter touch like that throughout and went through two, three...er, 14 more drafts of the screenplay, they might have had something. Instead, it rates no better than a 4 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed September 23, 2011 / Posted September 23, 2011


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