Thursday, September 22, 2011


New American Hero

Could we be staring at Hollywood's next action hero in Taylor Lautner, having the young, buffed adult being the marquee of a loud action film, with never ending efforts to highlight as much as possible that he can hold his own when it comes to the rough and tumble, the camera rarely shying away for a placeholder stuntman? From spending lots of time sans his shirt in the Twilight movies, Taylor Lautner now keeps most of it on anyway save for the obligatory scene that has to be snuck in, to allow the young princeling to step into the shoes of illustrious beefcakes of the past who now only have roles in The Expendables franchise.

Abduction is a misnomer for the title, as nobody gets abducted in the film save for Karen, played by Lily Collins, who becomes fodder actually, collateral and disposable as she screams her way through disbelief of being caught up in a web of intrigue far beyond her upscaled life of comfort. Her neighbour is Nathan (Lautner), the risky neighbourhood hunk with a suspect attitude and emotional baggage so much so that he has schedule visits to see a psychiatrist (Sigourney Weaver) in spite of having some of the best folks as parents (Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello), having a dad who condones violence in the name of self defense.

For director John Singleton, things are kept extremely simple and in PG territory (compared to his Four Brothers) as Nathan gets to question his identity, where his birthright is something more than meets the eye, having some Eastern European badass after him as a bargaining chip, making his life a living held as a fugitive as he and token girlfriend Karen run from point to point trying to stay above their confused state of minds, and figuring out in double quick time just what they needed to do to stay alive. Trust no one becomes the mantra as they struggle to stay one step ahead of dodgy people from all angles, as they inevitably fall in love and were one minute step away from statutory raping each other, at far as their characters go if measured by the law in this part of the world.

Expectedly, the story by Shawn Christensen has loopholes galore that just begs for your attention. For instance, it was a smart idea to arrange a meet up with villains (led by Michael Nyqvist of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame) in a public location, and a stadium no less with metal detectors and scanners at the point of entry, just in case your enemy decides to pack a gun to finish you off when bargaining for your life. But lo and behold, a metallic revolver got smuggled in the venue in the first place. It's either Nathan has very powerful friends, or can conjure weapons out of sheer will. Then there's the constant, convenient help from best pal Gilly (Denzel Whitaker), whom you think the villains, always boasting about their network and intelligence capabilities, would have already done something to neutralize Gilly since they're bugging the entire world, but no, these details get let slip.

Shoddy storytelling may be forgiven for an action film you may say, so long as the action set pieces are bang for the buck. Unfortunately I was hoping that Taylor Lautner gets as much opportunity in this aspect as possible, since in Twilight his computer generated wolfman moment always stole the limelight (besides his rock hard abs). Alas the filmmakers played it safe for fear of wrecking that Vampire Vs Wolf franchise, and I thought the trailer made the action a lot more thrilling than the actual product. The finale was one of the most anti-climatic seen where the hero flees and gets outside help that got dropped into his lap in a bid to hurriedly wrap things up. So much for being the alpha male.

Lautner does his best to act, but all he can muster and master is the scowl, which I blame Twilight for sustaining this as a bad habit to kick if he has intent to expand his range of emotions. His abs when they come on screen steals his limelight. Lily Collins also does her best pouty impression and adds a little bit of unseen spunk opposite Lautner, and why Mario Bello, Jason Isaacs, Alfred Molina and Sigourney Weaver are in this, is anyone's guess besides needing spare change to pay the bills.

It's not going to be a classic, but thanks to Lautner fans firmly set within Team Jacob this film could perhaps have a long shot at becoming a fanatical cult favourite for his fans who obsess with needing to see him in every conceivable film that he makes outside of the Twilight franchise where he obviously plays second fiddle in the love triangle. At least here he gets to ride toward the sunset with celebratory limp.

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