Review: 'Tracers' starring Taylor Lautner

When comparing the successful post-Twilight careers of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, one is clearly not pulling their weight. Stewart and Pattinson have made working with some of today's greatest auteurs a regular occurrence, while Lautner has Abduction and Grown Ups 2 as his non-vampire calling cards. Continuing the mediocre trend is Taylor's latest film, Tracers, a forgettable but fast-paced action vehicle centered on the acrobatic fad known a parkour. Wait, is this 2004?

Unfortunately, most people are probably familiar with the wall-jumping athletic style from the unfortunate film, Brick Mansions, which came a decade after parkour was made popular in the awesome French flick, District B13. So there's a musty, played-out feeling that Tracers is never able to shake, and it doesn't help that the plot is basically Premium Rush with a few more backflips. Lautner is an impressive physical specimen, though, and he employs that athletic ability impressively as Cam, a bike messenger racing through New York's busy streets. He's a well-meaning kid but the Chinese gang he owes money to could care less, and if he doesn't pay soon they're going to hurt the people he loves. Fortune literally crashes into him when his bike is destroyed in an accident with Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos), a parkour enthusiast who was fleeing from the cops at the time.  This should have been a clue to stay away, but Cam quickly falls for the sexy and mysterious girl, especially when she buys him a brand new bike.

Not that he needs it for long because soon he's part of Nikki's clique of parkour aficionados, who spend their days bouncing off graffiti'ed walls, flipping over cars, and leaping between buildings like gravity and concrete aren't a thing. He even gets a lesson in the Yoda-like Zen of parkour. It's all just "a state of mind"; "Don't look where the car is, look where the car isn't." A quick montage and Cam's got it all down pat, impressing the group's leader, Miller (Adam Rayner), who doesn't actually seem to do much parkour at all. That's because he's busy plotting robberies that put their special acrobatic skills to the test. Hey, you got your Point Break in my Tracers!!

Let's just say there's barely a trace of an interesting plot to be found. You can probably figure where things go from there as Cam must decide whether his need for cash is worth becoming a criminal. The predictable love triangle that emerges between Cam, Nikki, and Miller is dulled by lackluster performances, especially by the bland Avgeropoulos. On the other hand, Lautner's physicality and willingness to do his own stunts is extremely impressive, although he remains a stiff romantic lead. Cleanly directed by Daniel Benmayor and shot by DP Nelson Cragg, the free-running scenes are well-photographed and slickly edited. From the rooftops to the back alleys NYC looks great, and due to the very nature of parkour it makes an important backdrop to the action.

Tracers might have been better as a supercut of parkour athleticism than a feature film. Certainly it's not going to send Lautner leaping up to the level of his Twilight cast mates anytime soon.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5