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Lautner’s back in action in ‘Abduction’

By Tom Russo
Globe Correspondent / September 24, 2011

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It’s a good bet that Team Jacob will rally to see “Twilight’’ hunk Taylor Lautner’s “Abduction’’ this weekend, and find a way to like what they see no matter what. As for everyone else (read: Team Who Cares?), the movie is a more objective opportunity to assess Lautner’s potential as a general-purpose action hero once his emo-goth run wraps. You might not want to go betting on that one.

Lautner plays Nathan Harper, a high school kid with a wild streak that conveniently makes for a studly stunt reel spanning the first half-hour or so. Taylor hood-surfs “Death Proof’’-style! Taylor goes motorcycling - sans helmet! Taylor wrestles! Taylor loses track of his shirt! What makes the setup interminable are ludicrous scenes that “subtly’’ hint all isn’t as it appears to be in Nathan’s cozily upscale world. Dad (Jason Isaacs) forces him into a round of vicious backyard kickboxing as a character-building exercise, while Mom (Maria Bello) looks on with tsk-tsk bemusement. (Huh?) Nathan goes to see his shrink (Sigourney Weaver), and the standard couch talk quickly turns into, “I still have the dreams,’’ followed by a handy if cryptic home-invasion flashback.

The story’s initial Big Reveal comes when Nathan and hottie study partner Karen (Lily Collins) stumble onto a website that leads to the truth about his past, which includes a web of international black-ops intrigue. And hallelujah for that, because eventually director John Singleton can stop trying to coax emotional range out of Lautner and pile on some suspense, including an ode-to-Hitchcock train sequence.

Also undergoing some Hollywood beta testing is Swedish star Michael Nyqvist (the “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’’ trilogy), semi-effectively cast here as a Serbian nasty on Nathan’s trail. For a guy who alternately got to play crusader, hunk, and sidekick in his signature role, “Abduction’’ is a stock gig, but Nyqvist makes the most of it. “I don’t understand this game at all,’’ he says during a climactic set piece at a Pittsburgh Pirates game, equal parts menacing and wry. “But I like popcorn.’’

The ballgame sequence isn’t “The Town’’ hitting Fenway, but it offers some colorful action atmosphere. So maybe that’s actually two demographics “Abduction’’ can count on: Lautner’s fan club, and baseball fans running into sold-out screenings of “Moneyball.’’

Tom Russo can be reached at


Directed by: John Singleton

Written by: Shawn Christensen

Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Michael Nyqvist, Sigourney Weaver, Jason Isaacs, and Maria Bello

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 106 minutes

Rated: PG-13 (sequences of intense violence and action, brief language, some sexual content)

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