Taylor “that other guy from Twilight” Lautner scores his first starring role as an on-the-run knucklehead in Abduction, director John Singleton’s vacuous low-rent riff on The Fugitive (1993).

If nothing else, Lautner has found consistency with his emerging oeuvre: a movie as daft, dull and monotonous as the glitzy vampire franch from which his fame emanates. The baffling thing about Abduction — save a few dozen plot holes — is that, preposterously, no character is abducted.

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While studying a high school assignment about missing persons Nathan (Lautner) discovers his parents aren’t really his parents. For reasons revealed in due course he was adopted for the Greater Good and not — as the marketing materials insinuate — a victim of a nefarious plot to steal his identity. Given Nathan spends the lion’s share of the running time uncatchable, as he pounds the pavement and burns tarmac across the country, his situation is the very antithesis of abduction.

Nathan ditches his existing life after his (adopted) parents get sent the long kiss goodnight by mysterious foreign operatives with black clothes and European accents.

They seek to capture Nathan and use him as bargaining power against his real father, who holds sensitive high profile espionage information. Nathan and his pa don’t know each other from a bar of soap, but somehow capturing Nathan is the key to obtaining the top secret docs. He can trust only one person, neighbour and would-be girlfriend Karen (Lily Collins). She also happens to be hot.

The story persists on resetting itself to the same basic co-ordinates: a couple of the run, bump into bad guys, escape, on the run, escape, wash, dry, repeat. The action scenes are clumsily executed, with attention largely devoted to capturing Lautner’s arms and torso, and the screenplay’s cheese-a-rific lines, bad enough the first time we hear them, are despairingly repeated as audio flashbacks when the protag needs an emotional pick-me-up (in a moment of tribulation: “I’m your father Nathan, trust me…”).

What’s Lautner like in a lead role? His performance is not so much acting but auditioning for a porno. He has down-pat the sleazy smirks and smug retorts, the self-righteous body language of a vanity-plagued man working a dark corner in a bar, desperate to pick up before sunlight.

Abducted’s Australian theatrical release date: September 22.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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