Because most of the DVD assignments that come my way are foreign or indie films, it was quite a surprise to get Abduction, directed by John Singleton and starring Twilight heartthrob Taylor Lautner, in a role that reportedly earned him 7 million bucks. The assignment was such an anomaly I couldn’t help wondering, has there been some mix-up in the way my employer assigns titles to us freelance Movie Analysts? Is there some poor housewife in the Valley earning a little extra income who’s mystified as to what a Bela Tarr movie is doing in her mailbox?
Abduction is unmemorable in every respect, save for the depressing realization that a Hollywood studio now considers Maria Bello to be of an age where she can play Taylor Lautner’s mother, rather than star as the protagonist of her own movie. (It’s no wonder Bello has moved on to TV — greener pastures for most actresses over the age of 35 in Hollywood.) I’ll leave aside the question of whether Lautner’s salary was a wise expenditure, though if I were Lautner’s agent, I’d be keeping my fingers crossed that Gus van Sant comes calling with an indie role in a couple of years.
Casting issues aside, the movie prompted two thoughts: 1) I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since John Singleton first broke out with Boyz N the Hood; and 2), If you subtract a bit of Internet technology from the storyline of Abduction, the movie plays uncannily like a thriller aimed at teens that I might have rented on VHS circa the mid 1980s. The 1985 or ’86 version of the movie would’ve starred a couple of Brat Packers, and no doubt the soundtrack would’ve been hyped on MTV nonstop. It’s amazing how certain formulas prove so hardy, wheeled out by the studios decade after decade with only a minimum of tweaking.