Friday, 3 February 2012

Abduction (2011)

Abduction is a 2011 action thriller film directed by John Singleton and starring Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Sigourney Weaver, Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs, Michael Nyqvist, and Alfred Molina. The film is about a teenager who discovers that his parents are not really his when he sees his baby picture on a missing people website. The film was released by Lionsgate on September 23, 2011.

The Plot

Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner) is a teenager who lives with his parents, Kevin (Jason Isaacs) and Mara (Maria Bello). He has a recurring nightmare, and consults a psychiatrist, Dr. Geraldine "Geri" Bennett (Sigourney Weaver), to discover why. One day, Nathan is partnered with his neighbor and longtime friend Karen Murphy (Lily Collins) on a school assignment about missing children. Karen finds a website that shows what the children would look like as they got older through age-progression technology, and Nathan discovers that a young boy named Steven Price would look exactly like him, when Price got older. Searching in his basement, he finds the same shirt that Steven is wearing in the picture and realizes that he and Steven are the same person.

Nathan contacts the website's operator, unaware that he is a Serbian terrorist. The man reports back to his commander, Nikola Kozlow (Michael Nyqvist), who deploys two agents to Nathan's house. They attack Nathan's parents, who tell him to run before being murdered. The house is destroyed. Nathan and Karen escape and attempt to call the police, but the call is intercepted by CIA operative Frank Burton (Alfred Molina), who tells Nathan that he's in danger, and sends a team to dog him down. Before the team arrives, Dr. Bennett appears and tells Nathan that Burton can't be trusted. She reveals that Nathan's biological father, Martin (Dermot Mulroney), is a CIA agent who stole a list from Kozlow with the names of corrupt CIA operatives. Kozlow created the website in order to locate Nathan and use him as leverage to force Martin to return the list. Kozlow's men appear, having intercepted Nathan's call. Bennett tells Nathan to run away and head for a safe house in Arlington, Virginia. Karen decides to go with Nathan. Before they leave, Bennett tells him he can only trust his father and a man called Paul Rasen, and blows up her car to facilitate both their escape and her own.

Nathan and Karen arrive at the safe house, where Nathan finds Martin's cellphone, as well as an address and photo of his biological mother, Lorna Price (Elisabeth Röhm). They discover that she is dead. Nathan visits her grave and Karen notices fresh flowers, so she asks the caretaker about recent visitors. He reveals that the last visitor was Paul Rasen from Nebraska. Nathan and Karen head to Nebraska on a train; Kozlow's right-hand man, Sweater, follows them. When Karen leaves to get food, he kidnaps her and attempts to capture Nathan, but Nathan overpowers him and throws him off the train. Karen escapes and reunites with Nathan. They leave when the train stops in response to Kozlow's agent's death. Nathan takes Kozlow's agent's phone during the fight. Burton and his men find the two and convince them that they want to help. They stop at a diner, where Burton tells Nathan about the list. Nathan checks Martin's phone and finds the list, which contains Burton's name. Before Burton can react, Kozlow's men attack the diner and kill several of Burton's men. Nathan and Karen escape while Burton and his partner Agent Burns (Antonique Smith) kill Kozlow's men.

Kozlow's right-hand man's cellphone rings and Nathan answers it. Kozlow reveals that he has planned to kidnap Karen's parents and will kill them if Nathan doesn't give him the list. Nathan agrees, but says that he'll choose the place of the exchange. Kozlow agrees. Nathan realizes that his nightmares are due to repressed memories of Lorna being murdered by Kozlow while trying to protect him. Nathan decides to give Kozlow the list at a Pirates baseball game, and reveals to Karen that he actually intends to kill Kozlow. Nathan receives a call from Martin (who is also at the stadium) who tells him not to give Kozlow the list. Nathan ignores his advice, and tries to shoot Kozlow, who steals the gun and tries to force Nathan to give him the list. Burton's men, stationed all over the stadium, open fire as Nathan escapes, with Kozlow in pursuit.

Martin calls Nathan and tells him to lure Kozlow to an open area. Nathan does so, and, as Kozlow prepares to kill Nathan, Martin kills Kozlow with a sniper shot fired from a nearby building. Burton's men appear and capture Nathan. On their way to CIA headquarters, Burton attempts to decrypt Martin's cellphone. However, his superiors reveal that Martin has warned them that Burton would attempt this in order to remove his own name, and Burton is detained. Martin calls Nathan one last time and apologizes for everything. He says that he'll always be watching over Nathan. Nathan then reunites with Karen and Bennett, who tells him that she has arranged for him to live with her until he graduates, at which point he can move out to attend college. Nathan thanks her and leaves with Karen for a date in the empty stadium.


Abduction received overwhelmingly negative reviews from film critics; review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 4% of 92 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 3.3 out of 10. The website's consensus is, "a soulless and incompetent action/thriller that not even a veteran lead actor could save, let alone Taylor Lautner." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 25 based on 19 reviews.

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C, commenting that Lautner is "not a terrible actor, but if he wants a career after the Twilight fades, he'll pick better films." Roger Moore of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two out of four stars, saying it "falls in the same corner of the youth market as the Twilight movies. Some moments and many lines feel cribbed from that series." Andrew Barker of Variety called the film "a haggardly slapdash Bourne Identity knockoff, never rising above the level of basic competence." James Berardinelli gave the film one out of four stars, saying, "For those who are indifferent to Lautner or who don't like him, the only way to survive Abduction is under the influence of a controlled substance, and even that may not be enough." Catherine Brown of Filmink also gave the film a scathing review, saying that "Singleton is poorly equipped to handle teenage angst, a fact made far worse by cringe-worthy dialogue and a wooden leading man who proves that he has not yet developed the skills required to carry a film."

The Cast

Taylor Lautner as Nathan Harper/Steven Price
Lily Collins as Karen Murphy
Alfred Molina as Frank Burton
Jason Isaacs as Kevin Harper
Maria Bello as Mara Harper
Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Geraldine "Geri" Bennett
Michael Nyqvist as Nikola Kozlow
Elisabeth Röhm as Lorna Price
Aunjanue Ellis as Francheska
Antonique Smith as Sandra Burns
Dermot Mulroney as Martin Price

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