Taylor Lautner (second from left) and director John Singleton (second… (Bruce Talamon / nsgate )
John Singleton hadn't directed a film in six years, and he was in no rush to make another one.
"I didn't want to do a movie just to do another movie," said the auteur, who last stepped behind the camera for a feature film for the 2005 Mark Wahlberg- Andre Benjamin revenge picture "Four Brothers." "I wanted something that felt adventurous to me."
The adventure he found comes in the form of "Abduction," a conspiracy thriller starring "Twilight" teen pinup Taylor Lautner that comes to theaters Sept. 23.
Based on a buzzed-about script by Shawn Christensen and Jeffrey Nachmanoff, "Abduction" tells of a teenager who discovers his name on a missing-persons report and realizes the people who've been raising him aren't his parents after all. He goes on the run to find out the truth, which involves a mix of shadowy organizations and complex plot turns.
"What I loved about the script is that this is the angst a lot of teenagers have — there's always alienation, and the question of 'Do I fit in with my parents?' — but in this case it leads somewhere," Singleton said.
The filmmaker added that he believes the movie fits snugly with the rest of his canon. "Most of the films I made have been youth-based," the director said. "This is a little bit of a different vibe, but in a lot of ways it's more of the same. I just happened to be working with the most popular teenager in the world."
Singleton's career has emerged as one of the more unusual in the contemporary movie business. The Los Angeles-bred director landed on the radar in 1991 with the seminal street movie "Boyz n the Hood" and followed it up with other pictures about race and inner-city life, including the 1993 Tupac Shakur-starring drama "Poetic Justice" and the 1995 ensemble campus tale "Higher Learning," before shifting to commercial fare such as "2 Fast 2 Furious."
Since "Brothers," Singleton has kept his hand in the film world as a producer and mentor to younger filmmakers, most notably with Craig Brewer's Sundance sensation "Hustle & Flow," on which he served as a producer.
"Abduction" producer Ellen Goldsmith-Vein notes that there's a methodical, heady quality to Singleton's approach. "He's a true scholar of cinema who reads and sees everything," she said. "We'll all be taking a day off, and he'd go and see three movies."
Although Singleton hasn't shied away from action in the most recent phase of his career, he said he was conscious of the genre's dangers when making his new film. "A lot of people do action pictures, and it's just pyrotechnics and explosions. There's nothing holding people emotionally to the film," he said. "The best action directors, like Jim Cameron, know that every great action movie has great emotional content and character."