Taylor Lautner in ‘Abduction’: Can he move past ‘Twilight’?


Taylor Lautner and Lily Collins in "Abduction." (Bruce Talamon/AP/Lionsgate)

The film — in which he plays a high school student attempting to determine his identity after discovering he was kidnapped as a child — marks the 19-year-old’s first attempt to carry a movie as a leading man. But can Lautner make the transition from the shirtless, Bella-obsessed Jacob in the “Twilight” saga to legitimate movie star?

“Abduction” opened cold (a bad sign), which means that many outlets, including The Washington Post, have not reviewed it yet. But a few critics did get a peek. And they are confirming what many already suspected: Taylor Lautner has nice abs but minimal acting chops.

Claudia Puig reviewed the film for USA Today. Despite being flanked by talented vets, including Alfred Molina and Sigourney Weaver, Lautner does not deliver: “Lautner . . . has the physicality to star in an action thriller. But his acting range is limited. His face rarely changes expression.”

Stephen Holden of the New York Times basically said the same thing as Puig, but in a much, much harsher way: “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.”

Glenn Whipp of the Los Angeles Times theorized that director John Singleton was “trying to make a subversive case for Team Edward.”

BET’s Clay Cane makes the case that Lautner is doing the right kind of film for this stage of his career. He writes that Lautner has a “strong presence on-screen,” similar to early Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves: “Motorcycles, pool parties, underage drinking and cheerleaders are the film’s main ingredients — then the teen dreams are suddenly pretty people with problems.  Yes, it’s terribly unoriginal and is at the bottom of the barrel of other films that have done this much better — but what do audiences expect from Lautner? The pretty boy got his start in ‘Twilight,’ which is no cinematic masterpiece. Does ‘Abduction’ suck? Yes! Does it matter? No!

Do you think Lautner can have a successful career after “Twilight?” Or do you think his star will fade fast? Tell us in the comments.

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