If you were to ply an alpaca with enough alcohol to convince it to engage in sexual relations with a pile of lumber, the product of that unholy union would probably be Taylor Lautner. Possessing more abdominal muscles than he does facial expressions, the Twilight star does okay-ish in a supporting role where he is required to be as brainless he is topless (and boy, does he hate wearing shirts!), but he is completely lacking of the onscreen charisma required to lead a movie. We saw this clearly with Lautner’s previous starring vehicle, Abduction, which was a complete write-off.

And yet, here we are again, as Hollywood has persisted in giving him another chance as leading man courtesy of Tracers. And I don’t see this attempt faring much better than the first.

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In essence a modern-day rip-off of Point Break – but with surfing swapped out for parkour – Tracers follows down-on-his-luck New York bike messenger Cam (Taylor) as he literally runs into a group of rebellious parkour practitioners. Whereas Cam is living in a garage from cheque to cheque and constantly getting beat on for his debts to the local Chinese gangs, this crew enjoy freedom both physical and financial. They have everything he wants, including Nikki (The 100‘s Marie Avgeropoulos), the pretty but sassy squeeze of charismatic group leader Miller (Adam Rayner). And although initially shunned as an outsider, Cam soon ingratiates himself into the group by learning some sweet freerunning moves that would make Jackie Chan jealous.

But it turns out that the group are actually criminals who use their parkour skills to pull off daring heists – I’ll pause here while you facepalm – leaving Cam to pick between trying to be a good guy, and his growing loyalty to the group. Sprinkle in some sad backstory clichés – the exposition of which is usually delivered by the cast with the emotional intensity of plastic patio furniture – and you have a movie that feels like nothing more than a series of scenes that you’ve seen done better, elsewhere.

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However, I will admit that watching Tracers was not as wholly torturous an experience as I thought it would be, even if that statement is the equivalent of saying that I’m bleeding way less than I thought I would after being smacked in the head with a brick. In both cases, the brain damage is still going to happen anyway.

The reason for my unexpected sliver of positivity comes courtesy of the film’s parkour chase scenes which newcomer director Daniel Benmayor shoots with an energy that is often adrenalizing (even if these sequences do go on a little too long on occasion). What helps to sell these scenes though is that for the most part, it’s actually Lautner himself performing these incredibly acrobatic feats of fleet-footed fancy. He may not be able to act his way out of a mime’s box, but the young man certainly has some serious physical talents. So too does the naturally athletic Avgeropoulos engage in some convincing building leaping (even if she also drops the ball occasionally on the acting front). This impressive physical effort alone from Lautner and co is enough to warrant Tracers an additional star on this review.

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And it’s a good thing too, seeing as how there’s so much else in this movie desperately lowering that score: Levels of “acting” from the support cast that is usually reserved for infomercials about revolutionary new mops, dialogue so physically painful to listen to that your film ticket should come with an aspirin prescription, characters so paper-thin as to be practically translucent and a hackneyed plot that is merely a mish-mash of better films.

While the teen crowd who care more for pretty faces and dubstep soundtracks than such things as filmmaking competence may be more forgiving of these shortcomings – and even there I have my doubts – if you’re looking for more out of this movie then you’re out of luck. You may enjoy all the high-speed running antics but everything else will probably make you run and jump away.

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Last Updated: January 29, 2015

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10 Comments

  1. This movie contains a cast member from the Twilight movies… Thus, it is added to my “never watch” list. Job done. 😉

    Reply

    • Kervyn Cloete

      January 29, 2015 at 15:15

      That’s not entirely fair. Robert Pattinson is in fact a great actor and has done some fantastic movies lately (last year’s The Rover is definitely one to check out). And even ol’ Grumpy McOne-Face aka Kristen Stewart has occasionally surprised, like with Camp X-Ray. So you can’t really write them off wholesale like that.

      Unless it’s Taylor Lautner. Screw that guy.

      Reply

      • Rock789

        January 29, 2015 at 15:26

        Maybe… But it would take one helluva convincing to get me to watch one of their movies…

        I have watched one movie with Robert Pattinson in it (before I knew who he was) – Remember Me. That was quite an emotional movie and I did enjoy it. So perhaps I should give him a chance… 🙂

        Heard of Camp X-Ray and it piqued my curiosity…

        Reply

        • Skyblue

          January 29, 2015 at 23:54

          Robert Pattinson is actually a decent actor who has been choosing challenging work. He did take a serious misstep/payday for that sparkly-vampire-retarded-moist-teenage-hormone bullshit role. Of course my wife loved it but she has no taste in movies or men… oh wait…

          Reply

          • Kervyn Cloete

            January 30, 2015 at 07:13

            The best thing about Pattinson in Twilight is that he found it as crap as the rest of us. Just go check his press interviews from the later films, where he knows that there’s no way that that studio will now fire him for saying anything negative, so he just craps all over the movies and books for how horrible they are.

          • June McKinley

            February 4, 2015 at 00:01

            I agree with your wife’s assessment of men….

    • Paulmatthew22

      February 19, 2015 at 04:54

      Hey,.I would have said the same thing before watching this movie,.But it wasn’t too bad,.The Parkour scenes were a breath of fresh air from what are normally car chase scenes,.and stunts are terrific to say the least,.Gladly the movie moves at a pretty fast pace so you can’t say it’s boring,.Lautner may not be the best actor for sure,.but is Stallone?,.or Schwarznegger,?.It’s an action flick,If you liked Cliff Hanger,.you won’t hate this,…and let me tell ya,.You may be surprised how much you like it,.Plus, the chick in the movie is HOTT,.and it is DEFINITELY better than anything the TWILIGHT series has to offer,.Check it out,.You can do alott worse in the “action” genre

      Reply

  2. RinceThis

    January 29, 2015 at 14:56

    One of your better reviews! Still laughing!

    Reply

  3. guest

    February 6, 2015 at 15:01

    “If you were to ply an alpaca with enough alcohol to convince it to
    engage in sexual relations with a pile of lumber, the product of that
    unholy union would probably be Taylor Lautner.”
    Sorry, this kind of reviews working with insults and prejudgements, instead of arguments says more about the reviewer, than about the movie. Mr Kervyn Cloete may be good enough for his handfull of devoted followers out in the sticks but he’s not in danger to end up as a serious top critic of a well-respected publication.
    1/5 for this review.

    Reply

  4. PAS

    February 10, 2015 at 01:01

    The vitriol presented in the first sentence alone is enough to say that this review is not worth a grain of salt. Reviews are supposed to be unbiased and based on the film itself without prejudgement. That certainly is not the case here. Very unprofessional and unflattering of the reviewer. I will be looking elsewhere for unbiased movie reviews.

    Reply

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