Within 10 minutes of the opening credits of “Abduction,” Taylor Lautner’s shirt is off. For the movie’s next hour and a half of gunfire, explosions and chase sequences, he may as well have gone nude.


At Quality 16 and Rave

Because “Abduction” is nothing more than the ensemble sound of cash registers collectively ringing. It’s a sexless and criminally dull attempt to prove that a Tiger (Wolf?) Beat idol can carry a movie, bust the proverbial blocks and score John Singleton some brownie points with his daughter.

Billed as an action thriller, “Abduction” is basically a tweenage riff on the “Bourne” series, without a thistle or thorn in the formula. Lautner (“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”) plays a high schooler (with a lot of indigestion and squinting) who finds out that his folks, Maria Bello (“Beautiful Boy”) and Jason Isaacs (“Harry Potter” series) aren’t actually his folks and that a gang of anonymous Slavic terrorists (Liam Neeson-standard action villains), led by a disengaged Michael Nyqvist (“The Girl Who Played With Fire”) want him dead. With obligatory “hottie” Lily Collins (“Priest”) in tow, he runs, jumps, drives and slides around Pittsburgh on-the-run, under CIA surveillance (of course), with an elderly Sigourney Weaver (“Paul”) and Alfred Molina (“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) putting on their serious faces for all the exposition, happily cashing in.

At this point, it’s safe to conclude Singleton’s career (and “Boyz ‘N The Hood”) is a fluke. Directing without a single hint of interest, “Abduction” can’t muster anything above basic cable. It’s relentless softcore, without a single laugh, charm or moment of suspense. Visually, it’s cold, the action’s perfunctory and the chase sequences cull up as much thrill as the penny horse at Meijer. Shawn Christensen’s (newcomer to Hollywood and lead singer of Stelastarr) script is edgeless and loaded with its share of laughably inept lines, cumbersome exposition and plot holes.

At the eye of this shitstorm is Lautner, whose bid for Tom Cruise-dom can’t even merit a Keanu. He doesn’t have the humor to be, either. Taylor’s a human Shiba Inu — cute, but far too harmless to be treated with anything more than a pat on the head and some baby talk. Taylor hasn’t got the charisma to carry a picture like this. He’s admirably doing all his own stunts here (are we impressed by that anymore?), barking seriously when the script calls for it and clearly giving it his all. But even Team Jacob would call out “Abduction” for a put-down. Not because of its bite, but out of mercy.

In this country’s crotch-fear, Taylor’s one of too many young adults we’ll ogle for half a decade and discard when the new model comes along. He’ll languish on primetime and we’ll see “Abduction” included in a double-DVD pack in our Wal-Mart future, finding ourselves hard-pressed to confess that our metabolism’s slowed and realizing, for a moment, that maybe we are all to blame for this $35 million mistake.

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