It is unfortunate for the makers of Abduction that the identity thriller has been so well covered in recent years. You can understand what they were going for; a teenage version of Jason Bourne that appealed to those teens sat pining for the next Twilight instalment. Sure to be a hit right? Well, if it’s going to put itself in league with the big boys with an edgy monochromatic poster and punchy trailer then it better be up to the mark. Alas, I will pull no punches on this one.
The plot is that of your standard out of control actioner. At one point during the film psychiatrist Dr. Bennett (Sigourney Weaver) says with a dead pan expression: ‘there’s no time to explain’ – a sentiment that was obviously taken to heart by all involved. It opens with American teenage frivolity until things take a turn for the serious when Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner) has to do his sociology coursework. After finding his face on a missing persons website his world is turned upside down. It becomes a matter of life, death and learning who it is that you can really trust. Trust, the filmmakers inform us, must be earned, or at least bought for a hamburger and a milkshake. The quest for identity and answers that the film promises turns out to be just a hollow hint of promise. It never really excites a sense of searching in the way that Bourne was able to.
The sudden bursts of overt violence are bizarre, as though the filmmakers periodically remember to be edgy but it simply comes across as ridiculous. There is a bomb in the oven. Don’t worry about how it got there, because after all, it makes a cool explosion. It also gives a reason for the teenage eye-candy to jump in the pool and get soaked to the skin – a technique used throughout the film, perhaps to distract from the dryness of the leading man’s acting. Lautner manages to maintain the same expression throughout with only two slight variations on “dark and brooding”, namely “dark and brooding with slight smirk” and “dark and brooding with tears in eyes”.
In the end Abduction actually becomes a matter of absentee parenting, resolving very little. As an action film it is shot competently, the pace dynamic enough that the film doesn’t drag. The overall experience however is compromised by cliché that makes it comedic when it should be thrilling.