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“Adventures in Baby-Snatching”

Film: “Abduction” (2011)

Grade: F (SKIP IT)


“TWILIGHT” STAR TAYLOR Lautner included, this flaccid timewaster of a “thriller” is full of shiny surfaces and zero substance.  BMWs, Apple Macbooks, even the pearly magic of Lautner’s dentistry are set before our eyes like glossy windup-toys headed right off the side of a cliff.   Putting the abs in “Abduction,” a toned but tonedeaf Lautner plays Nathan Price, a high school senior duped into thinking his parents (Maria Bello and Jason Isaacs) are his biological progenitors when instead, they’re undercover agents determined to arm and protect him from impending badguys.

Something’s fishy when your psychologist dissuades you from thinking too deeply about your dreams, especially that flashback of what could be your mother dead on a hotel floor in Paris.  Slumming it as Nathan’s psychiatrist, Sigourney Weaver plays Dr. Bennett, another adult actively involved in the cover-up of Nathan’s real origins.  (Are the “Avatar” and “Alien 1, 2, 3, 4” residuals really that paltry that Weaver needs “Abduction” for the moola because it can’t possibly be the script that called her great name?  The same goes for the equally distinguished Alfred Molina, of “Frida” and “Spiderman 2,” as a crooked CIA agent.)

Something’s even fishier when your dad picks you up from a ragin’ pool party – of course, a shirtless and hungover Nathan is strewn, alongside the obligatory red Dixie cups, on the lawn – only to bring you home and viciously defeat you in a kickboxing match.  “Drink like a man; fight like a man!” growls Isaacs as Nate’s dad.  It’s boot camp masquerading as tough love, and when danger finally comes a knockin’ – cue the Russian goon squad and the dead-eyed villain named Viktor Kazlow (Michael Nyqvist) who wants the encrypted information on Nathan’s cell phone – Nathan is ready to defend himself.  “Abduction” knows its demographic all too well for any real harm to come to its hero, and his haircut, and the film ends, improbably, with he and girlfriend (Lily Collins – Phil’s daughter) snuggling in an empty baseball stadium.  Hot dogs, get your hot dogs here!

If  director John Singleton (of “Boyz n the Hood” and “2 Fast 2 Furious”) musters little shock when Nathan eventually stumbles over his childhood photo on a missing persons’ database – I know my name is Steven! – it’s because Lautner too closely resembled the guy who misses quite a bit throughout his day: irony, algebra, carbohydrates.  Lautner isn’t so much an actor but the multiplex’s version of a chocolate Easter bunny: he may satiate your sweet tooth, but he’s all hollow inside.

Whatever “Abduction” names as its ransom, don’t pay it.