I guess this means Abduction wasn’t about his career. Taylor Lautner, Marie Avgeropoulos, Adam Rayner and Rafi Gavron star in Tracers.
Director – Daniel Benmayor
Screenplay – Matt Johnson
Producer – Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey & D. Scott Lumpkin
Rated PG-13 for some intense violence, perilous action, sexual content and language
In serious debt following his mom’s death, Cam (Taylor Lautner) is trying to land back on his own feet as a New York City bike messenger. Although it’s a steady job for him, it’s hardly enough to pay both his rent and the loan sharks. After a running into Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos), he is introduced to her crew – a team of parkour experts that use their skills to pull off heists.
Desperate to pay off his deepening debt, Cam joins the group and manages to do well with them. But as the payouts get bigger, the stakes get higher and more dangerous.
Once upon a time, a young man by the name of Taylor Lautner had the Twilight films to bank on, and he was certain that five movies would be enough to make a name for himself. Wouldn’t you know it, the films became massive hits, and there was no doubt that the shirtless werewolf and those mopey lovers would become stars. Finally, in 2011, Lautner got the leading role he was waiting for all these years with Abduction.
And as Verbal Kint would say, “And like that – poof – he’s gone.”
After four years of doing nothing, other than popping up in Grown Ups 2 as the funniest – I mean, the only funny part, Lautner is back with Tracers, which is what we’d get if we mashed up Premium Rush with Brick Mansions.
And what a masterpiece that sounds like.
I’m actually gonna get the praiseworthy elements out of the way here, ’cause I figure if I can’t say anything nice about a 2015 movie, then it’s probably named The Loft. The parkour sequences are shot quite well. Director Daniel Benmayor doesn’t get too carried away with chopping up his scenes into a million different, frenetically cut shots, and cinematographer Nelson Cragg films each sequence smoothly, giving the moviegoer a clear view of what’s being performed.
Okay, I’m done. Now on to why this film mostly sucks.
Benmayor provides Tracers with an exhilarating energy when we’re following the gang doing their parkour stunts or Lautner pedaling his way through New York City. No matter how good the stunts and camerawork here are, though, neither of them are good enough to compensate for the paper thin plot and characters. Any time the characters decide to stop bouncing around city walls and buildings, the energy doesn’t just fade away, it comes to a head-on collision into a brick wall stop as the story moves along in ho-hum routine fashion. There’s zero chemistry to be found in Lautner and Marie Avgeropoulos’s obligatory romance (of which the film spends way more time on than it should), you’ll find very little surprise in a plot twist involving one of the main characters – a villain with as much bite as a newborn baby gumming on a binky – and for a film that has as much energy as it does with its parkour scenes, there’s a shocking lack of energy and suspense during the heists, which you’d expect otherwise as the stakes for each heist get higher and higher.
I can’t beat up on Lautner too much here. He performs most of his own stunt work, so I gotta applaud him for being willing to put that much effort into his role. As for the performance, though, it ain’t gonna do much for his post-Twilight career, which is almost running on empty at this point. Granted, there’s not much anyone could do with such a thinly written character whose bad choices are given saintly excuses from writer Matt Johnson. For example, he doesn’t just get in debt with shady loan sharks; he did it to financially help his dying mother. He willingly partakes in armed robbery, but of course, not before admitting, “Well… I didn’t sign up for this.”
I get that Johnson’s trying trying to make Cam into some type of flawed hero, but to do that effectively, you need to give him complexity that goes beyond the flat, cookie-cutter characterization he’s getting here. With stronger writing, Cam could’ve been given a touch of gray that would’ve made him complicated, but still someone worth rooting for. What we get, however, is a one-note character, with issues painted in broad strokes, that we could care less about.
The stunt work and cinematography are first-rate, and it’s refreshing for once to get action sequences that aren’t so frenetically edited like many other similarly styled films tend to do. Still, in the end, Tracers is nothing more than a dull, derivative heist thriller that turns into an even more dull, derivative on the run romance. While Bella and Edward have been making wiser choices lately to break away from the Twilight mold, Jacob’s still looking for that one film to help him break away as well, but this one ain’t it.
I give Tracers a D+ (★½).
REVIEWS COMING LATER NEXT WEEK…
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