Sunday, February 9, 2014

(Some of) my assorted thoughts on: Abduction (2011; directed by John Singleton).

Obviously, this isn't the type of thing that I usually review on this blog. But I'm due a post before the weekend is up (and I have less than an hour), and I just watched it, so I have (some) assorted thoughts on it, and so, it fits the bill!

I came across Abduction yesterday evening while looking on Netflix for something to watch. The description intrigued me: the protagonist "come across his own childhood photo on a missing persons website", an "begins questioning everything he's ever known."

I'm inevitably intrigued by any variation of, "We/I am here to inform you that your whole life has been a lie... now, quick, run, they're coming for you, and follow this trail of dangling carrots to find out the truth!" So, this seemed like a surefire bet; would probably still be fun, as cookie-cutter as it looked.

What more is there to say than, I called it? Indeed, it proved itself cookie-cutter and thus little more than mere fun. Case in point, I never doubted that the female lead (played by 24-year-old Lily Collins, who's gorgeous, and whose filmography I may now explore a bit) was going to die, no matter the severity of danger she appeared to be in, and that the end wouldn't find the couple going off to live the rest of their lives in completely safety and happiness. (Spoiler alert: I was right.)

As a particular plot development came about, I think my face probably lit up with a knowing, pleased grin. The two leads, under assumed identities, were attempting to get to their destination by train, hopefully under the radar of the forces out to besiege them. Of course, one of the latter's operatives has tailed them onto the train and, as the tension is mounting, right to their private compartment, where, obviously, things to a head. What so delighted me about this? It was obvious to me that the Shawn Christensen had been influenced by North by Northwest. This is not the first modern thriller in which the train sequence from that classic Hitchcock film has been paid homage to. And I can't help but approve, because if I were writing a movie, I'd want to do much the same. (In fact, in some of my private comic book scripting, I haven't been able to resist doing so.)

However, it wasn't as dumbed-down as it could have been. I thought it was going to go the "CIA are the good guys, and the foreign agents are the bad guys route", but it ended up concluding that -- in the words of the CIA bigwig "is he friend or foe?" who was ultimately proven to be grossly corrupt -- in the intelligence community, any two opposing parties are "two sides of the same coin". So kudos to the writer and director for having some political and moral kahunas. Hell, with the protagonists being high school students, I didn't expect the film to become even remotely serious about the intelligence community. I figured agents and mercenaries would be ciphers not closely aligned with any actual, real-world outfit.

Also, there were numerous scenes that were quite frank about how easily certain handy devices in our lives can be hacked and/or overridden for interception and spying. The movie didn't come right out and decry the NSA's Big Brother surveillance state, but I was still struck by that it even showed the U.S. government engaging in such operations. Most audiences would probably just figure, though "Ohhh, that's juts those crazy CIA guys in the movies, with all their car chases and shoot-outs and kung fu fights!"

All-in-all, I don't regret spending my time on it. After all, not only did I enjoy it, I even got a blog post out of it! (...a post that incidentally, overlapped in terms of subject matter with my other blog...)

-- Ryan

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