2011, PG-13, 100 min. Directed by John Singleton. Starring Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver, Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs, Denzel Whitaker.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 30, 2011

Taylor Lautner, the lupine heartthrob from the Twilight movies, here takes a solo leading role in a bid for bona fide action-star status. Sadly, both the drama and action in Abduction are tepid, and Lautner’s kickboxing skills markedly outshine his emotive chops, although the failures of the former are due more to the lackluster involvement of director John Singleton while the failures of the latter have proven time and again to not limit the professional careers of many a dubious action star.

Abduction begins with a strong premise: While working on a school project, a teen discovers a photo of himself as a child on a website for missing children. But when high-schooler Nathan (Lautner) confronts his mother (Bello) with the mystery, she and his father (Isaacs) are offed by unknown assassins mere seconds later. Nathan flees with his project partner Karen (Collins) and continues to evade the killers throughout the film. Questionable help and explanations come in the form of a CIA chief (Molina) and Nathan’s psychiatrist, Dr. Bennett (Weaver), whom the teen has been seeing for “anger issues.” Gradually, Nathan’s recurring dream that the shrink always encourages him to repress and his deceased father’s tough training in self-defense appear more than circumstantial. Molina and Weaver, who, most of the time, perform brilliantly, move through Abduction as if on autopilot. Singleton, in his first feature film in six years, also seems to have merely checked off items on his director’s to-do list – reveal Lautner’s buff abs in the opening moments, fiery explosion, kickboxing scene, wrestling scene, make-out scene, and so on – rather than fashion a compelling story or create genuine physical excitement. The film’s Pittsburgh location is used to nice effect but little else about the movie rings true.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More John Singleton Films
Four Brothers
A scrappy Seventies throwback about vigilante justice in the corrupt urban jungle.

Marrit Ingman, Aug. 12, 2005

Baby Boy
In Baby Boy, writer/director/producer John Singleton puts forth a lot of provocative ideas regarding our culture's infantilization of African-American men, not least of these ideas ...

Marjorie Baumgarten, June 29, 2001

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Last One Down the Mountain: Belated Thoughts on the Sundance Film Festival
Last One Down the Mountain: Belated Thoughts on the Sundance Film Festival
Even virtually, the 2024 fest felt revitalized

Feb. 21, 2024

Joy Ride
Raunchy road trip goes all the way to China for filthy fun

July 7, 2023


Abduction, John Singleton, Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver, Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs, Denzel Whitaker

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle