With Abduction coming out today, Taylor Lautner's first starring vehicle, we thought we should take this opportunity to evaluate the young actor's chances of making the jump from supporting cast member to leading man. Does he have what it takes or should he just stick to the sidelines? It's investigation time - Pros and Cons style.
Lack of Acting Talent
The overarching problem with Lautner is the fact that he can't act. He tries to act. And occasionally is okay. But mostly, he is untrained, and not in that raw, interesting kind of way, but in the "doesn't know what he is doing at all even remotely" kind of way. The biggest offense and proof that he has no idea what is going on is that he is, and excuse the actorly term, CONSTANTLY off voice. The easiest way to spot a wannabe actor is when you notice what I call "gravely voice". It means the so called performer doesn't know how to warm up or use his voice, so he defaults to a gravely tone that is a combination of nerves and an attempt at naturalism. Taylor Lautner is so guilty of this, he was giving ME a sore throat during Abduction. Other "gravely voices" can be found hanging out on the CW. Lautner rarely feels honest, and always feels angsty-squinty. His default facial expression is smolder. And he has no idea how to listen, take his time with a moment, or allow something to truly happen on the inside, informing the choices he makes. He does what the script says and not very believably. Granted, the supposed acting lessons he took between Twilight films did make somewhat of a difference, but certainly not enough.
More after the jump
I don't like it. He doesn't have movie star looks, no matter how much you try to tell me he does. I'm all for unique looking people, but untalented weird looking muscle machines who think they are hot and think I should think so too? This industry isn't exactly screaming for any more of those, you know? Hollywood is trying to make him a star because of his connection to Twilight and his body. Those aren't good enough reasons. There are plenty of actors who this industry tries to make into a star simply because he is pretty and sometimes that girlie gene in me takes over and I'll even see a movie *just* for a boy. (Case in point: What's Your Number for Chris Evans. I'm not ashamed. He is TALENTED TOO.) But Lautner is not that boy. His face makes my face hurt. A lot like his voice makes my throat hurt! Taylor Lautner is bad for me.
Bad Taste = Poor Decision Making
The only movies he has done in his adult life are the Twilight films, Valentine's Day and Abduction. That's zero for five right there. It shows he has no barometer regarding what's actually good, as opposed to awful. Even "fine" or "not bad" would be an upgrade from awful. But no. A movie star needs to know how to pick his projects and Lautner has no discernible idea how to do that.
Yes, he does have a brand. He is Jacob Black. He has crazy abs. Girls and women and boys and men all over the world love him for this, no matter what. We'll see how Abduction does this weekend, but the thinking now is that his brand alone can open a movie. If Abduction is huge, despite the fact that it is one of the most incompetently made films I've ever seen, it will be because the Taylor faithful turned out en masse.
Boy Next Door Off Screen Persona
Whereas Robert Pattinson has always been displayed as the kind of odd, mysterious one, Lautner, throughout the Twilight process, has taken on more of the sweet, boy next door kind of attitude. I happen to think there's a massive ego underneath the palatable facade, but a lot of his adoring public does not, and being perceived as nice and genuine can go a long way. An even longer way if you can back it up in reality. But can he?
Martial Arts Ability
The best part about Abduction, well the best part about Abduction was Jason Isaacs, but the other not horrible part was anytime Lautner showed off his parkour and martial arts ability. He's actually pretty remarkable. And this is something he came to the table with, as the black belt has been studying karate since he was six years old, and has won three Junior World Championships. It's not something many other actors his age can boast and is incredibly impressive. Anytime he was jumping, punching or spinning, I actually sat up for a second, I took notice. This is where he needs to focus his attention, not on trying to be a leading man.So what is the conclusion? I find it hard to believe that this kid is going to have a lasting career. Robert Pattinson did nothing for either Remember Me or Water for Elephants, box office wise or quality wise, and Lautner is even weaker than Pattinson is as an actor. Abduction might do okay, but will quickly vanish when anyone other than a 14 year old girl hears how insipid it is. For the most success, I do think Lautner should stray towards the action and more opportunities to do his own stunts and explore his physicality further, but I don't see how he could ever be a Matt Damon, Harrison Ford or even Jason Statham with such a limited acting ability. If he wants to be the star Abduction is trying to make us think he is, he has gotta take some time to really learn how to do this thing and learn the difference between a good script and a bad, really bad, like really REALLY bad one. So, sorry Taylor, for the time being, my answer is Nay. You have some potential hanging out in the depths of your being, but you have wise up, get over yourself, and be open to learning A LOT to do so.