Reviewed by Jan Hardy, Library Specialist.
Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver (2011)
(Rated PG-13) “Abduction” opens with Taylor Lautner, heart-throb of the "Twilight" movies, riding on the hood of a friend’s truck in full stupid teen mode. The truckful of boys heads to a party in the suburbs, where they drink, play beer pong, and yell. So far, I thought, the audience for this is mainly teen girls crushing on Lautner, and teen boys who want to be him.
Lautner, as Nathan Harper, drinks enough to pass out on the lawn, and the girl who threw the party has to wake him up and send him home. Nathan’s father (Jason Isaacs) confronts him and forces him into a martial arts match that seems really abusive, coaching him to “Use your anger. Keep control. Don’t get so drunk you can’t defend yourself. Watch your back.” His mom (Maria Bello) watches with a tolerant smile: “My boys.” Nate’s parents tell him he’s grounded, and he protests, “Don’t you trust me?” His mom answers, “Trust has to be earned,” a line we’ll hear throughout the movie.
Nathan feels insecure and out of place despite his buff physique, popularity at school, and success on the wrestling team. (Maybe because of those overly harsh “training matches” with his dad?) He’s lived next door to Karen (Lily Collins) for years and has a crush on her; the two exchange yearning glances while she puts up with her abusive boyfriend. Nathan tells his psychiatrist, Dr. Bennett (Sigourney Weaver), “Sometimes I do feel like a freak. Like I’m a stranger in my own life.” He begins to talk about a recurring dream of a woman being attacked, but Dr. Bennett dismisses it as “our minds’ way of handling anxiety.” “Don’t most psychiatrists want to hear about dreams?” Nathan asks, but she puts him off again. Red flag alert!
As luck would have it, Nathan and Karen’s sociology teacher assigns them to work together on a project, and we see Nathan posing in the mirror before Karen arrives, changing his shirt, trying to look tough. It wasn’t until this point that I started to like his character in all his fragile masculinity. As they research their project, Nathan stumbles across a website for missing children and sees a picture of a child that resembles him. I did enjoy the sleuthing here as he matches the child’s shirt in the picture to one he saved from childhood, and his friend’s observation that the website photo is “cropped weird.”
Nathan confronts his mother, and suddenly masked men break in to kill both his parents. Karen, who came back to finish the homework, hides, terrified. When Nathan dials 911, a CIA operative answers, saying “You have to trust me.” Nathan slams down the phone, saying “Trust has to be earned.” He gets Karen out of the house seconds before it explodes around them, and Dr. Bennett drives up to whisk them away, with this great line: “Nathan, there’ll be time for you emotionally to deal with this, but right now you have got to get your [stuff] together.” After some slick driving in a car chase, Dr. Bennett tells them she’s going to slow down at a curve, and they’re to jump out. The kids roll downhill to a river bank, and swim away - hiding behind a beaver dam! I’ve never seen any beavers in our rivers, but folks say they live here.
From here, the plot goes into more turns than South 18th Street, and more twists than a ride at Kennywood. At one point watching the DVD, my sister, who follows mystery plots more intricate than I can comprehend, asked me who Dr. Bennett said we could trust, and I answered, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m just watching it for the momentum.” That, and the scenery. Dr. Bennett’s office looks out over the Point, and there’s a scene under the soaring brick arches of the Pittsburgh Union Station. The finale, a rollicking chase through PNC Park, is worth waiting for. Whatever sense “Abduction” does or doesn’t make, and whatever your feelings about a certain young teenage hero, it’s fun to see Pittsburgh and PNC Park showing up so well on screen.