Friday, September 23, 2011

Is Taylor Lautner's Abduction a Victim of Bad Acting or Bad Editing?

Taylor Lautner's Abduction opened up today officially, and the general reaction has not been good.  Critics are giving it a firm thumbs-down in both the US and international press.  The general public isn't loving it either - for a while the film even had a 0% rating at!

Taylor Lautner,Lily Collins
Quick, let's get out before it starts!

So what makes Abduction such a bad movie?  Twilight haters are quick to give it a thumbs down, but most professional critics are focusing on two key areas:  Taylor Lautner's acting skills and the production work of the film.
  • From the New York Times review of Abduction:  “To give Mr. Lautner his due, he is a martial-arts dervish with perfectly sculptured abs. His acting, however, is another matter. I can’t recall another teenage star so opaque. If his physiognomy — recessed eyes that don’t seem to focus, a wide snub nose and Elvis-y lips — conjure Neanderthal manhood after a cosmetic makeover, his boyish monotone with its utter lack of inflection suggests that he is really an advanced robot simulating human speech without registering emotion or even comprehension.” Ouch!
  • “Abduction features woefully appalling writing brought to life by genuinely random direction. The only consistency is that none of it works, and the result is a mess that will leave even the most ardent Twi-hater yearning for Stephenie Meyer’s skills. …one of the year’s worst films," says Australia's Sydney Morning Herald.  Just in case it's not clear they're haters - the whole review calls the film "worse than Twilight."
  •  Critic Claudia Puig for the USA Today review of Abduction wrote: “Lautner . . . has the physicality to star in an action thriller. But his acting range is limited. His face rarely changes expression.”  (Okay, I might give her this one.  Then again, name a facially expressive Twilight actor?  Anyone?)
  • And again from Australia:  "Don’t be fooled by the presence of esteemed actors like Bello, Isaacs, Sigourney Weaver (playing Nathan’s shrink) and Alfred Molina (a dodgy CIA boss). They’re only there to collect a pay check for reading out the absurd script — which could have been written by a 14-year-old, given its level of depth and sophistication," says Movieflix.
So which is the true culprit here?

Tell me what's really going on here!

Though I will agree that it takes more than pretty abs to carry a movie, I'm going to lay more blame on the film production and cinematography crew than Taylor Lautner.  No, Taylor Lautner is not the world's best actor - but that doesn't mean he's a bad actor.  And we've all seen great movies carried by actors who were terrible in other films.  Look at Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love ... and then anything else.  Think how awesome Jude Law is in Sherlock Holmes.  It's not just about the actor ... it's also about the direction, camera work, script, and editing.

Abduction just doesn't cut it in those areas.  Casting choices were fine - there's heavy weights in there who can do much, much better.  However, the writing for the movie's script is crap, in the sense that it's not a tight, driving story.  Some of the lines make you cringe.  Chemistry is not developed evenly between characters, and there's a choppiness to it all that goes beyond using artistry to create a feeling of chaos in the film.  This just wasn't very well done.

Despite all that, Abduction may still be a profitable film.  Given the strength of Lautner's Twilight fame, he'll likely have other chances.  Perhaps his next movie won't be thrown together so badly, and we'll all have a chance to see him in a film directed and edited by a team who can help him show off his best side.