MOVIE REVIEW OF ”ABDUCTION”

Hollywood makes three kinds of sci-fi flicks.  First, epics that occur in space.  Second, stories that transpire on Earth.  Third, yarns that utilize both settings.  “Abduction” qualifies as the second.  The premise of “Assassination Games” director Ernie Barbarash’s “Abduction” (** OUT OF ****), a tolerably cheesy sci-fi saga mashed up with a crime thriller, is utterly preposterous.

The elaborate but convoluted premise virtually defies synopsis.  Imagine the kind of movie those schlockmeisters at Asylum Studios would crank out about ‘aliens trafficking in humans,’ and you’ll see why “Abduction” earns points for its goofy SyFy Channel charm.  Aliens from another dimension can “bend space time,” but they’re are running out of that commodity.  When they entered our world, they disrupted our three-dimensions and wound up marooned here ever since.

Apparently, these aliens—called ‘Visitors’–had established contact earlier with the ancient Chinese back in the Stone Age.  While time ticks away at their expense, the Visitors have embarked on a hunt for humans with either “specific genetic codes” or exceptional ‘chi.’  The pseudoscience of Feng shui plays a critical part in the flawed navigational system of the Visitor’s starship.  These singular humans can produce enough chi to propel the Visitors through the three-dimensional matter in the Earth’s gravitational pull.

In the “Abduction” none of these humans, however, will survive the journey.  Basically, all you need to know is that the Visitors have abducted Scott Adkins’ daughter and nothing is going to stop our hero from getting her back alive.  Clearly, Barbarash and “Operation Rogue” writer Michael MacLean have appropriated “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and combined it with “Taken.”

These sinister aliens, sauntering around in dark robes with hoods covering their cadaverous faces, are fairly straightforward.  Not only do they speak in predictably ominous tones, but they also can emit a light from the palms of their hands.  Near the end of this nimble 97-minute nonsense, the Visitors unveil themselves in their native form as towering, green, crystalline, warriors.

Omniscient and infallible as these Visitors appear, they make a supreme error when they abduct British SWAT team leader Andrew Quinn (Scott Adkins of “Avengement”) and his adolescent daughter Lucy simultaneously.  As one of two protagonists in this buddy picture, Quinn searches desperately for his missing daughter.  She is one of many Earthlings shanghaied by these space invaders to salvage their malfunctioning navigation system.

In a parallel plot, of “Abduction” a deadly assassin who has never missed a single shot in his entire life, Connor (Andy On of “Zombie Fight Club”), promises his wife he will quit killing people for an Asian crime syndicate.  Connor yearns to turn over a new leaf.  Unexpectedly, the Visitors clad like monks in robes materialize mysteriously in his apartment and abduct his wife.  Inevitably, Quinn and Connor collide with each other when they tangle with these formidable aliens.  Connor tries to shoot them, but they dissolve his bullets into dust!

“Abduction” unfolds in a gloomy warehouse where a huge, sweaty thug trundles unconscious humans around in a wheelbarrow.  Quinn finds himself among other less fortunate humans who the aliens have seized as slave labor. These woebegone souls have a spider-like apparatus attached to the nape of their necks with a glowing jade emerald at the center.  The atmosphere is ominous as Quinn fights one of the monks and takes a blow to the chest that literally knocks him backwards some twenty feet or more through a solid brick wall of a towering temple to plunge into a watery abyss.  Miraculously, Quinn survives the fall!  After he climbs out of the water, Quinn discovers he is in Vietnam at the Victory Fountain Park in Ho Chi Minh City. Wandering the city without a clue, he lives like a vagrant until the police arrest him and turn him over to  hospital authorities for observation.

Quinn suffers from the effects of time travel.  Not only does he stutter unless slapped, but he also has become an amnesiac.  Eventually, he tells his tale of woe to a Vietnamese doctor, psychiatrist Dr. Anna Pham (Truong Ngoc Anh of “Truy Sat”), about aliens abducting his daughter on Sunday, 7 January 1985.

Imagine our hero’s shock and stupefaction when Dr. Pham informs him the year is 2018. Quinn is appalled at this revelation, but he convinces Dr. Pham that he is no lunatic. When they consult with her elderly mentor, Dr. Dao (Aki Aleong of “Pound of Flesh”), the latter explains how the aliens use Feng shui as a navigational tool which will enable them to leave the earth.

Presumably, Quinn and his daughter were caught in the same net.  He managed to escape and tracked her down.  The aliens thwarted his initial rescue attempt.  Although Quinn was one of many humans the Visitors grabbed, he lacked the “specific genetic codes,” so they relegated him to drone ranks with the emerald apparatus.  Principally, “Abduction” harkens back to the post-apocalyptic, sci-fi television show “Falling Skies” (2011 to 2015) on TNT, where enemy aliens captured humans and controlled them with a similar spinal contraption.

Barbarash has done his share of action movies with Jean-Claude Van Damme, so he is no stranger to martial arts actioneers.  As outlandish as the sci-fi plot is, “Abduction” musters occasional footholds of gravity with Barbarash’s acrobatic staging of various fight scenes.  He focuses on the collective plight of Scott Adkins and Andy On.

Their shenanigans with martial arts and silenced pistols proves far more cinematic than these monolithic, CGI-forged, extra-terrestrials.  As villains, the Visitors are comparably lukewarm.  Early action depicting Connor’s clash with a trigger-happy gang of Russians boasts ramped up levels of violence comparable to Keanu Reeves’ “John Wick” shoot’em ups.

Adkins is comparable to Roddy Piper in John Carpenter’s “They Live” (1988), while On is the equivalent of Chow Yun Fat in John Woo’s “The Killer” (1989). “Abduction” qualifies as the kind of picture best watched with lots of beer and pizza, but it has none of the electrifying intensity of “Avengement,” another recent Scott Adkins outing.

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