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Abduction (2011)

Lionsgate
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/17/2012

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/19/2012

Movie fans are movie fans for many reasons, but if you ask most, they probably have a favorite director. While many elements go into making a movie, the director can often make it or break it. For me, I like directors with a distinct visual style (John Carpenter's use of darkness, Sam Raimi's hyperactive camera). However, when you examine most movies, you see that the directing is simply mediocre -- it's enough to keep the movie going and doesn't get in it's way. Thus, we often don't notice the directing. So, when it's bad, it can stand out. That's the case with Abduction.

Abduction introduces us to Nathan (Taylor Lautner), a seemingly normal teenager. He likes hanging out with his friends, and he has a crush on his neighbor, Karen (Lily Collins). His parents, Kevin (Jason Isaacs) and Mara (Maria Bello), are tough but loving. (Kevin has taught Nathan martial arts.) When Nathan and Karen are assigned a project for school, she comes across a website for missing children and they find one which looks like Nathan. Confused by this, Nathan does a little snooping and suddenly two armed men attack his family. Nathan flees, taking Karen with him, and the two find themselves on the run, as some very dangerous men are now after the teens. CIA Agent Burton (Alfred Molina) offers to help Nathan, but the boy feels that he can trust no one, as he is not only on a quest to survive, but to find out who he really is.

Abduction takes a standard spy thriller, in which the hero would typically have amnesia, and re-imagines it as an adolescent male fantasy in which a teenaged boy gets to drive fast, throw punches, and save the girl. Although PG-13, Abduction plays things straight and offers a notable amount of violent action. (This definitely isn't Agent Cody Banks.) Despite being an international spy thriller, the movie makes the interesting choice of having the action take place in Pennsylvania. The film boasts a great cast. In addition to the actors mentioned above, we get Sigourney Weaver in an interesting role as Nathan's therapist and Michael Nyqvist, who played the lead in the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, plays the terrorist who's after Nathan.

It's too bad that this is such a stupid, stupid movie. The screenplay by Shawn Christensen is full of holes. I watched the movie, and I'm still not sure how/why Karen was on a missing children website. The finale offers an idea which flies in the face of anyone who's ever challenged the entry/re-entry policies of a major venue. And in my favorite scene, Karen is on her way to see Nathan and a man grabs her and says "Tell me where he is!" If the guy had simply let Karen get to her destination, she would have led the guy right to Nathan. This was simply added to create another "rescue" scene between the youngsters. The CIA is very vague with Nathan as to who is real family is, despite the fact that their names would have meant nothing to him.

But the movie really suffers in the directing and editing departments. Abduction was directed by John Singleton of Boyz N the Hood fame. Singleton has directed several movies since then and I would consider him a professional director. Yet, this movie has an amateurish look and feel at times. There is an odd scene where all that we see are Karen and Nathan's eyes. Speaking of things from Lucio Fulci movies, I spotted at least one unmotivated zoom. But the worst sins are committed during a sequence aboard a train. Singleton insists on showing the exterior of the train every few seconds. They're on a train, we get it. We haven't seen them leave the train, so we understand that that's where they are. And yet, we keep seeing the train. I haven't seen anything like this since the cheapy Creatures from the Abyss.

It's nice to see Taylor Lautner want to do something outside of the Twilight films, and as he is clearly athletic, this probably seemed like a good role for him. He handles the physical aspects of the film well, and his emoting is never laughable. It's too bad that the rest of the movie is so ludicrous. Evidence that interesting ideas don't always yield good movies, Abduction is about a boy in search of the truth and a movie in search of a better editor.

Abduction proves how handy a pool can be in the event of an explosion on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good, most notably the yellows during the finale, and the picture is never overly dark or bright. The image has a nice amount of depth, and the level of detail allows us to see textures on objects. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. This is a very nice track and one has to only check out the big explosion to see how detailed it is. We can hear individual pieces of shrapnel flying past us and the subwoofer effects are perfect. The stereo effects are nicely detailed and do a fine job with sounds moving side to side on-screen.

The Abduction Blu-ray Disc contains a selection of extras. "Abduction Chronicle" (18 minutes) is essentially a long interview with Lautner in which he discusses key scenes and moments from the film in detail. His interview with intercut with clips and on-set footage. "Initiation of an Action Hero" (12 minutes) examines Lautner's role and how he does his own stunts when possible. We get a nice amount of behind-the-scenes footage showing Lautner at work, and we get comments from the cast and filmmakers who discuss the actor's physicality. "The Fight for the Truth" (12 minutes) is more of a general "making of" which looks at the cast and characters, working with Singleton, the stunts, the pyrotechnics, and the locations. (These three featurettes can also be watched as part of "The Abduction Application" which allows viewers to see even more behind-the-scenes footage while watching the film.) "Pulled Punches" is a 4-minute GAG REEL.

Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long