Even when he’s not a werewolf inexplicably tearing everything off but his pants, Taylor Lautner still finds a means to be shirtless. In Abduction, a movie in which no one is actually abducted mind you, he gets drunk, waking up on a random front lawn without a shirt… because all teenage drunks shred their clothes when trashed.
Were that the only thing wrong with Abduction, playing it up to an audience of drooling, texting teenagers, maybe it wouldn’t be so offensive. Product placement galore when the movie itself is already selling out isn’t so offensive either.
But no, Abduction would have been better coined My First Thriller Movie, and sponsored by Fisher Price. You half expect the Jonas Brothers to show up as rogue CIA agents because of how “cool” this non-slick thriller is trying to be. Instead, it’s about… Russians! And they wear black! Cue SHOCK and HORROR at this IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU scenario!
Abduction’s ludicrous set up has Lautner randomly teamed with the girl of his dreams in a sociology class, and they just happen to be working on something regarding missing kids. Browsing one website, which apparently no one else has ever accessed according to the dialogue, Lautner learns he’s adopted. This sets up the Batman, or the Batman angst rather. Lautner’s parents are gunned down in front of him, setting up a number of pale, non-existent action scenes where stuff happens.
The thugs here are keen with their technology too, rushing to set up phone surveillance at a hospital, where they not only take the time to tap into the right phone, but the equipment is also tied to a TV in the room. Because, clearly, the little monitor on the tracking device might miss something, right? Err, wait, no it wouldn’t.
Lautner doesn’t show much of anything beyond his abs, surrounded by capable actors who seem to be groaning inside every time he utters a line. It’s as if they’re trying to hide their star in the arms of Maria Bello. It doesn’t work. Instead, he gets to flaunt his act with a couple of fancy kicks, a nifty Jackie Chan-inspired fall down a glass structure, and plenty of driving around or hiding right out in the open. Yes, running from the CIA, Lautner and girlfriend ignore the forest right next to them while walking down a busy highway. Brilliance, and that’s not usually a word you can associate with this dreamboat teenage vehicle. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Movie]
Much of Abduction looks hideous, filtered with a gaudy over saturation that causes flesh tones to burn and Lautner to lose his tan from one shot to the next. There’s zero consistency here, spiced up with color to appeal to those who keep their TVs set to vivid. That’s an accurate depiction as to the color timing for much of the film. It even wanders into the black levels, strict nighttime scenes flooded with odd blues and browns instead of traditional blacks. It wipes the dimensionality slate clean, and even if black levels are rendered accurate, they’re soaking up shadow detail just for the fun of it.
Either the digital intermediate phase, pulsing color, or a selection of filters keep Abduction soft, blurry, and woefully under-detailed in medium shots. Skin takes on a “dreamy,” silky smooth glaze that looks like someone used too much moisturizer. Close-ups are marginalized until the third act, that save for the minimally speaking lead Russian who is only shot in profile. For style… or something.
It’s a shame too since much of the photography could be appealing were it not so mushy. Abduction spends a lot of its time near or around Pennsylvania forests, none of which carry the definition or clarity they should. Leaves sort of blend into each other without any separation. The stadium locale used for the finale, apparently snapped during a live Pittsburgh Pirates game, carries many of the same lackluster qualities.
A mild grain will slip free from its digitized confines, although not with any regularity. The worst of it comes during a brawl on a train, the noise factor rising, although not necessarily because of the encoding. The obvious green screen effects used to portray passing landscapes likely play a role in making the action look fuzzier than it should be. Don’t be offended by grain, just the visual effects that make it look worse than it ever should. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]
There’s little going on for much of Abduction’s running time, so little that this DTS-HD 7.1 just goes to waste. The highlight comes during a restaurant shoot-out where the villains can snipe a half dozen CIA agents from a hundred feet, but miss a stationary Lautner inside a diner at 20 yards out. Shredded glass scatters into the surrounds with effective imaging, while bullets reach random targets on walls or other objects.
Bass is added for kick at the opening party, loud and rather obnoxious from the get go. Soundtrack quality is fine, just weighty on the low-end. Train and motorcycle engines roar effectively at least, certainly sizing up the vehicles to match the ground-level angles visually. The crowd during the stadium action is sizable as well, swelling into the rears as the home team makes a play.
If there’s another highlight worth discussing, it’s a home explosion. The initial thrust from the flames isn’t anything to get excited about, but when sizable debris lands into the pool, the subwoofer’s bump is sufficient. Actually, the debris in general is plotted into the surrounds well, tracking overhead for an enjoyable moment in a movie that has so, so few. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Abduction is so proud of its extras, it wants you to watch them twice. The Abduction Application, a kooky name for a pop-up feature if there ever was one, takes three of the featurettes on the disc already but stretches them out to run alongside the feature. How thrilling.
Those three are The Abduction Chronicles, where Lautner speaks on the project from his POV, Initiation of an Action Hero which is a promo to sell Lautner as an action star (um, not yet), and The Fight for the Truth, a general making-of bonus. On their own, they come in at 42-minutes or so. There is one other bonus aside from trailers, and that’s a short gag reel. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]