Abduction - Taylor Lautner and Lily Collins
Nathan (Taylor Lautner) and Karen (Lily Collins) © 2011 Lionsgate

This teens-on-the-run timewaster stars Twilight pretty boy Taylor Lautner as high school senior Nathan Harper, whose parents are more than they seem. No, they aren’t werewolves. Sorry, girls.

Nathan has been raised by the instructive-beatdown-delivering Kevin Harper (Jason Isaacs) and indulgently boys-will-be-boys Mara Harper (Maria Bello). His martial arts training comes in handy when murderous Serbian underworld figures break into his upscale suburban home, seeking to abduct Nathan for reasons unknown.

Neighboring teen hottie Karen (Lily Collins) has chosen that unfortunate evening to come over for a visit and console Nathan about a personal problem. Helpfully advised by one of the gun-wielding thugs that “there’s a bomb in the oven,” Nathan and Karen escape the exploding house in the nick o’ time and hit the road.

Sigourney Weaver is therapist Dr Bennett, who has been helping Nathan deal with lifelong “insomnia, impulsivity and rage issues” — not to mention a recurring dream about witnessing a woman’s murder. Oh, and she’s also an undercover CIA agent. She helps Nathan and Karen evade pursuit by more of those nasty Serbs and her own fellow spooks from Langley. What’s up with that?

Abduction - Taylor Lautner
Nathan (Taylor Lautner) © 2011 Lionsgate

Saying much more about the plot would spoil later unlikely twists and dubious developments. The spy-vs-spy storyline probably doesn’t matter as much to this movie’s target demographic as the tentative puppy-love romance between noble Nathan and confused Karen, however.

Team Jacob members will be pleased to learn that Lautner appears shirtless, wrestles, engages in a lengthy makeout scene, frequently flashes his blindingly white smile and regularly resorts to his trademark expression of petulantly simmering resolve. Other viewers may be disturbed by Lautner’s usual robotic, Tom-Cruise-like artificiality, the sense that something about the actor is just a little “off” human-emotions-wise. If anyone ever throws a screenplay about a buff cyborg over his agent’s transom, Lautner should give the role some serious consideration.

Best known as Sandra Bullock’s daughter in The Blind Side, Collins is pretty vacant as cutie Karen, whose impressively oversized eyebrows are more memorable than her performance. Alfred Molina is adequate if perhaps a little too comic as CIA supervisor Burton. Michael Nyqvist, who played Mikael Blomkvist in the original Swedish Millennium Trilogy movies that began with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, seems bored as the relentless Serbian spy boss Kozlow.

The screenplay opens with one of those cliche hundreds-of-teens house parties, gives the CIA and the Serbs almost magical electronic surveillance abilities that are defeated by the age-old tactic of a simple jump-in-the-river escape, and relies on a ridiculous amount of patient gullibility for the big finale to work. Also, an early bit that plays like a setup for a very obvious movie-star cameo at the end has no payoff, which is a real shame.

Cold-blooded Koslow has the best line of the film. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he informs Nathan that “you’ll be responsible for the death of every friend you have on Facebook.” The monster!

[Rating:2.5 stars]


James Dawson

Jim is Film Review Online's Los Angeles based reviewer.