Abducting Careers

Recently, for some inexplicable reason, I watched John Singleton’s Abduction, the failed attempt at giving Twilight’s Taylor Lautner his own action franchise. The film is not only the worst film of 2011, but quite possibly the worst blockbuster of the last decade. The quality of filmmaking on display is on par with Tommy Wiseau’s famously awful The Room, however the budget and experience of the director makes Abduction even more embarrassing. The film left me bewildered and feeling like I needed to write about it. But rather than add to the body of current criticism—of which there is an ample supply—I decided to look ahead ten years and see how the film had transformed the careers of both its star and director.   

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It is hard to believe that it has been almost 10 years since the release of one of the most beloved bad films of all time. Destroying the career of both its lead and director, this fan favourite was not loved quite as much on its release. Putting Tommy Wiseau’s The Room to shame, John Singleton’s truly atrocious Abduction was both a financial flop and one of the most critically-savaged films of all time. However, as we all know now, this cult favourite certainly did not remain in the cinematic dog house. While the reviews have not changed, since its rediscovery in a Lionsgate trash bin seven years ago, Abduction has played almost every night in at least one theatre somewhere in the world.

After its initial release, the film faded away as nothing more than a bad memory. That bad memory, however, lingered longer for those involved in the production. While some of the cast left with nothing more than another bad film on their resume and a paycheck, the headliners of this film did not remain unscathed. At one point, John Singleton, a onetime Oscar nominee, was seen as promising young talent. Unfortunately, he began to experiment with blockbusters, such as the critically lauded 2 Fast 2 Furious. That experimentation led to Abduction, and after the disaster that was the film, he was forced to move into the adult film industry to pay the bills.

Instead of distancing himself from the film as Singleton did, the star, Taylor Lautner, embraced the newfound appreciation of the film. After Hollywood and “tweens” lost interest in the Twilight franchise and its stars, disasters such as Abduction and the misguided Twilight-spinoff, Jacob’s Ladder, confirmed Lautner’s decline from stardom. Producers saw the Twilight-spinoff as a last chance for the young star, and after the werewolf-firefighter hybrid bombed at the box-office, his pug-like good looks took a turn for the worse as well. Now the corpulent actor makes his living appearing at midnight Abduction screenings around the world.

The film is much loved ironically by hipsters who enjoy the complete ineptitude shown by the film’s director and writer. For the few who have yet to see this fantastic showcase of bad filmmaking, the film’s script often doesn’t line up with the action onscreen. In fact, the plot hangs entirely on coincidences and borders on being incomprehensible.

And while the first time writer, Shawn Christensen, is to blame for some of the more baffling lines and plot points, the direction is no better. While Singleton once showed promise with his Oscar-nominated Boyz N The Hood, his direction in Abduction makes Tommy Wiseau look like a great filmmaker. The camera often lingers on actors who have nothing to say and stand around not knowing what to do. In a few fan favourite scenes, the actors are left to mumble nonsense as the camera moves past them.

Leading up to its doomed release in the summer of 2011, producers were still hopeful of making the film the first entry into a franchise. As we all know, this did not happen. However, because of its unexpected worldwide cult following, rumours have been circling lately, that a return to the decade-old franchise is possible for Lautner. The former-star hinted at a low-budget return to the Abduction universe, going so far to say that he was interested in directing it as well. It may now be a cliché to quote the film, however, it is clear that producers were not aware of what they “let out of the box” when they green-lit this project 10 years ago.

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