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Mannequin in Motion

by Ann Morrow on September 28, 2011

Directed by John Singleton

Taylor Lautner fans probably will appreciate that the teen-wolf heartthrob from the Twilight series goes topless within the first half-hour of Abduction, but not many other moviegoers will. A by-the-numbers vanity project that showcases the actor’s lack of talent in almost every scene, Abduction presents Lautner as Nathan, a reckless suburban high-school student (hence the drunken, shirtless stupor at a classmate’s party) who has an inexplicable anger-management issue. That issue is what provides the plot—Nathan’s mother was murdered while he was an infant—but very little in the way of a character. Mostly, Nathan is defined by the people around him: his loving parents (Mario Bello and Jason Isaacs), who both favor kick-boxing as the family sport; Karen (Lily Collins), the girl next door he has a crush on; and later, and by the kindly CIA agent (Alfred Molina) who tries to keep him out of trouble.

Nathan gets into big trouble after he finds his baby picture posted on a missing-children website. He immediately finds the baby shirt he was wearing in the picture, which says more about his mother’s housekeeping skills than why the picture was posted in the first place. His parents reluctantly admit he was adopted but before they can tell him more, their house is invaded by men in black suits with guns. The mysterious bad guys have already drawn the attention of an untrustworthy CIA contact, and with the help of his psychiatrist (Sigourney Weaver), Nathan goes rogue. And he takes Karen with him. While on the lam, the teens elude their pursuers through one boring contrivance after another.

During the film’s plodding, predictable trajectory, Lautner mostly stands around looking photogenic and mouthing insipid dialogue without any perceptible changes to his expressionless acting. And for a trained martial artist, he is peculiarly anti-kinetic, although some of the blame can be attributed to director John Singleton, who seems more concerned with glossy close-ups of the stars (Collins is a real cutie) than with choreographing an involving action sequence. He did, however, have the good sense to surround Lautner with some heavyweight talent, most notably Michael Nyquist (the sensitive journalist in the Swedish Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy), who is even more magnetic as a slippery East Bloc operative.