Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Nathan (Taylor Lautner) lives a sheltered life. He has a big house, parents who adore each other (Jason Isaacs and Maria Bello, with great natural chemistry), and dishy next-door neighbour Karen (Lily Collins) to help him with his homework. Life is a string of parties, drinking, stupid driving stunts, hanging out with friends, flirting with girls. The worst thing that can happen is getting grounded. Then Nathan discovers a missing persons website with a picture of a three-year-old he thinks must be him, and everything changes.

Abduction is a formula thriller with a neat little twist - the event in its title happened many years ago, and even that may not be what it seems. As if coming to terms with all this weren't enough, Nathan soon discovers that there are some very nasty people on his trail, and he and Karen are forced to go on the run. Car chases, shoot-outs et al follow. As our hero gradually realises the reason why his dad always insisted on teaching him to fight, he is forced to grow up fast as he'll need all his skills just to survive.

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There are some fantastic supporting players in this film. Alfred Molina is wonderful as always, even if his CIA agent character doesn't have a lot of depth. Sigourney Weaver has fun combining two of her stock characters as a thoughtful psychiatrist who doesn't take any shit. And Michael Nyqvist breathes life into a formulaic villain, doing great work in his brief scenes even if one gets the impression he was only cast for his blue eyes. It's tough for young Lautner to square up to this kind of talent and, all in all, he doesn't acquit himself badly, but the film would have been much stronger with somebody more charismatic in the role. Collins does her best but struggles to make much of a part that lets her be little more than an accessory. One can't help but feel that teenage girls watching the film would appreciate a stronger heroine.

That the film is squarely aimed at teens is something we are periodically reminded of in moments of exposition that will probably embarrass youthful viewers and that too often serve to snap older ones out of that all-important suspension of disbelief. This is unfortunate as there are a lot of plot holes (things which make logical sense from one direction - such as the website device at the start - fall apart when viewed from another), and smart characters too often do unbelievably stupid things. The ending is particularly clumsy, with too many layers of sentimental resolution after the danger is gone. One half expects Nathan to declare that he learned something today. Still, on balance this is a serviceable thriller with plenty of exciting moments. It's unlikely to amaze anybody but it's the sort of thing you can watch with friends and be pretty sure everybody will enjoy.

Reviewed on: 28 Sep 2011
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A young man's life undergoes a dramatic change after he finds his picture on a website for missing children.
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Director: John Singleton

Writer: Shawn Christensen

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

Year: 2011

Runtime: 106 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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