Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tracers ★

Image result for Tracers movie still

    My experience with this picture was certainly one of a humbling tone considering I never thought another action film starring Taylor Lautner would come to fruitionyet it hasand much like the 2011 floundering entitled "Abduction," it would seem that the same ploy is being utilized in order to gain that highly sought-after net revenue.

    Even if the chief objective succeeds (that being the generation of a few million dollars to accompany a low-budget production), there is another aspect that should be acknowledged here: It is obvious that Lautner has come to accept his typecasting future, as his face once again headlines a story that not only provides little depth to its structure, but it seems to be infused with boundless mediocrity. An actor who becomes caught in the snares of typecasting is a delicate creature who warrants much empathy.

   For those of you who are direly interested in the plot, here it is: Cam, a young bike messenger with a somewhat troubled past, resides in New York Cityit is the only place that he's ever known and his accurate knowledge of the streets enables him to succeed in this modest career. Not only does he have to scrounge rent money (even a garage space costs $550 per month in this economy), be he also has to make loan payments to the local Chinese mafia. At this juncture, it becomes evident that Cam is the victim, a role that Lautner knows all too well, and we are supposed to sympathize with him even if there is no beguile to justify it.

   In a seemingly fateful incident, our protagonist meets another troubled teenager by the name of Nikki, a young girl who is as beautiful as she is troublesome. Nikki is part of a group that roams the urban regions of New York practicing the art of "parkour," a freestyle exercise that consists of unhampered body movements such as running and jumping that are exercised over any obstacle. Yes, it is as silly as it sounds, and although it does take some athletic ability to control one's movement with precision and speed, the stunts provided for us have a hint of lifelessness to them.

   The rest of the film is dominated by these swift motions as the hand-held camera becomes the most vital tool for its construction. Beyond the fact that the action is choppy and unflattering in every sense of the word, it becomes slightly monotonous and quite uneventful. (In fact, I found my mind drifting off to general wanderings, which included the observation that the inner city was teeming with vacant warehouses and buildings clearly in an attempt to give our fleeing characters more running room). Throw in a corrupt DEA agent and a number of secretive missions, and the parkour athlete transitions into that of a "Tracer," which pays better but comes with increased risk.

   In light of all these statements, a burning question comes to mind: What has happened to the action genre? Is this truly what we have come to? It is correct to take the budget of the picture into account; however, it does not defend against the sheer lack of inspiration. With Liam Neeson as the sole anchor of these types of movies in today's film industry, and with the declining prominence of actors such as Jason Statham, there does seem to be a sense of leeway for a rising action star. I've stated before that it is not Lautner's inability to act that obstructs him from success but the roles in which he partakes. If the former "Twilight" heartthrob has any chance of overcoming this hindrance, he must shed this teenage persona. This product is nothing short of a growing pain for an actor who is not manly enough to play bigger roles; consequently, binding him to these types of performances that suffer from poor writing and a lack of innovation.

   As the lights of the theater regained their vitality, there were two thoughts that crossed my mind: Early in the film, there is a scene that plays on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," as Cam, a lowly bike messenger, attempts to converse with Nikki, a well-to-do parkour enthusiast. She is suspended in the air while he is begrudgingly attached to the ground. Although the names of Montague and Capulet are never uttered, it does allude to such notions (if only for a brief moment), and one can only imagine what could have been if they would have remained with this formulaat least, it would have been more entertaining.

   *On a side note, it has come to my attention that the mafia seems to be slacking in the manner in which they qualify loan recipients. I mean, why give fifteen thousand dollars to a young man who has little ability to return the investment? Is this just an excuse so that they may later injure the individual in question? It seems to me that the stereotypical mob needs a new image and apparently an accountant.

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