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Ab-solute disappointment

Abduction doesn’t appear to feature an abduction – or much of a plot at all

As I watched Taylor Lautner flexing his (not inconsiderable) muscle in Abduction this week, I was surrounded by the following snack-food items: a litre bottle of Diet Pepsi, a bag of chocolate Minstrels, a bucket of popcorn, and a generous selection of pick 'n' mix. This supplies four excellent reasons why I shall never achieve the washboard-abs for which the young star is justly famed.

I'm aware I haven't said much about the movie itself yet, but quite frankly it hardly matters. Those who appreciated Taylor's pneumatic presence in the Twilight franchise are not looking for depth of character or an intricate narrative. So long as his latest project offers plenty of scope for Abercrombie-style shirtlessness, the target market is more than satisfied.

And it's a good thing too, because Abduction provides precious little in the way of plot. In essence, obnoxious frat-boy Nathan Harper (played by Master Lautner) discovers, through the ingenious use of a Google search, that his professed parents are in fact two secret agents tasked with his foster care. After a seemingly endless series of shoot-outs and car chases, it finally emerges that Taylor was separated from his real parents after a bungled CIA operation left his mother dead, and his father in hiding.

But as I say, it hardly matters. The story is almost entirely redundant, merely serving as a means for Lautner to reposition himself as an action-genre leading man in the familiar (and highly commercial) Daniel Craig mould.

This wouldn't be too objectionable were it not for the flimsiness of the surrounding movie vehicle, with scant attention paid to even the most basic elements of narrative continuity and coherence.

First (but not least) among these deficiencies is the title of the film itself. Perhaps I missed some nuance of the plot, but I must admit I struggled to find any point therein which even passingly resembled an “abduction”. Yes, Lautner's character is taken into care after his parents' disastrous mission, but it would be a pretty tactless screenwriter who would seriously describe fostering as a form of kidnap. Also, it's never made entirely clear why Harper's real parents were attacked in the first place, or why, indeed, Lautner's character should be of such ongoing interest to the assortment of CIA hoods and ne'er-do-wells who pursue him throughout the film.

Frustrating as these issues are, however, they pale alongside the film's principal difficulty, namely the inadequacy of Lautner as a leading man. Confined to the Twilight series, where he was firmly second fiddle to an even more humourless actor, Lautner's shortcomings were easier to overlook. In the full glare of a starring role, however, it becomes obvious just how stilted and unnatural his performances are.

This isn't to say that Lautner is incapable of development and improvement, but if he wishes his career to survive the inevitable conclusion of Twilight, he needs to pick his future work a little more carefully than this.

Rating: **

N2 film reviews – supported by Newbury Vue

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