Abduction is Taylor Lautner‘s first big movie separate from Twilight; even though they’re still filming Breaking Dawn, Part 2, we’ll call it his first post-Twilight project. There were definitely some worries that Taylor, despite being overshadowed by Robert Pattinson in the series, will always be known to the kids as Jacob Black. And while Abduction is pretty awful, it’s clear that Taylor won’t get pigeonholed as a surly werewolf.
How do we know? It has to do with government conspiracies and Taylor’s T-shirt.
In Abduction, Taylor manages to convince us that he’s both a trained martial arts expert and a normal high school senior. He gets drunk, can’t say more than “Hi” to a pretty girl in the hallway, and struggles with resentment toward his parents. Then, once everything goes to shit and he and Lily Collins have to go on the run, he convincingly plays the kind of character who’s freaking out but is able to push his hysteria to a manageable level so he can learn everything necessary about taking down the bad guys.
Abduction‘s twist is confusing — honestly, I had trouble explaining the specifics of it to a friend — and a letdown. But Taylor commits to the whole black ops/CIA conspiracy throughout the film, so that it wasn’t until afterwards that I realized that I was still confused. He sells it.
Understand: This is not a good movie. It’s currently at 6% on Rotten Tomatoes. The script reduces Taylor’s older costars Sigourney Weaver and Alfred Molina to blithering idiots, but the chase scenes are fun. Sorry to say that there are actors Taylor’s age who will always be more compelling — Anton Yelchin and Aaron Johnson come to mind immediately — but the one goal Taylor needed to be fulfilled, was. We can now separate him from Jacob Black.
Here’s the moment where we knew his career would be OK: In one scene early in the movie, Lily’s character is coming over to work on a school project, so Taylor runs through his room searching for a T-shirt that looks sexy but is also clean. Maybe it’s because I was in a press screening, but when he whipped off the tee, there was no reaction. At Twilight screenings, the theater erupts in shrieks and applause at even the hint of Jacob pulling off his shirt; the movies’ screenwriters play into that by having Taylor stand around shirtless and smirking.
The fact that we were able to not gawk and cheer at Taylor’s abs gives him the necessary room to show us what else he’s got to offer. You have to wonder if anyone’s given him that opportunity before.
Also, he and Lily have pretty great chemistry; there’s a makeout scene that I was sure was gonna transition to some PG-13 version of sex. Jacob may never get laid, but Taylor will make it as a romantic hero.
I just hope he grows out of his face a little. Whenever I look at him, I can’t help but still see his llama lookalike: