Review: ‘Tracers’ uses parkour to enhance the film’s appeal Special

Posted Mar 23, 2015 by Sarah Gopaul
‘Tracers’ is a high-speed action movie that gives audiences an up-close view of freerunning as its characters leap from one danger to the next.
Taylor Lautner stars in  Tracers
Taylor Lautner stars in 'Tracers'
VVS Films
There seem to be increasingly fewer ideas to keep chase and heist movies fresh. The elaborate planning of Ocean’s Eleven and high-speed pursuits through crowded city streets are becoming clichéd and uninspired. However by incorporating new physical disciplines, a conventional plot can be raised to new, more energetic levels. Tracers uses parkour to enhance its otherwise traditional narrative.
Cam (Taylor Lautner) owes a lot of money to some impatient Chinese loan sharks. His daring style makes him a very efficient bike messenger, but even taking extra runs is not providing enough revenue to cover his debts. When he literally runs into the quick vaulting Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos), he takes up parkour in hopes of running into her again. Proving his recently acquired skills, Cam is invited to join Nikki’s crew who operate an underground delivery service. When Cam’s new boss (Adam Rayner) becomes suspicious of his intentions and other obligations, his spot on the team is put in jeopardy.
Most of this narrative is pretty standard and, therefore, quite predictable. From the reason Cam required a loan to the illegal nature of Nikki’s work to the love triangle, it all fits into the formula. There is one surprise development that’s integral to the narrative and it definitely makes the story a little more interesting. But then even the conclusion is foreshadowed in the early part of the picture.
The element that really enhances this story is the parkour. Watching the actors (and their stunt doubles) freerunning between buildings, in parking garages, on abandoned cargo ships and through the streets is consistently exciting. Each step seems random and dangerous, and the speed at which they make these outwardly spontaneous decisions is mindboggling. The athleticism and stealth of the one robbery that is shown in detail is striking and the chase that occurs shortly after is similarly amazing. Watching a well-made parkour picture is the equivalent of seeing a good, break-neck martial arts film – the fast pace and inconceivable action sequences evoke comparable reactions. Most importantly it’s inherent to the story, so it’s not just a gimmick to improve the film’s appeal.
Lautner is continuing to carve a space for himself in the action genre. His energy and desire to do many of his own stunts is both a producer’s dream and nightmare. Nonetheless, he’s owning the role of young, attractive hero with a kind heart. Avgeropoulos is also building a reputation for playing tough characters, featuring in the TV series The 100 as a young woman warrior. Here she plays someone with a similarly determined personality. And Rayner achieves just the right balance of caring and threatening, though his character gets creepier the more that’s revealed.
Director: Daniel Benmayor
Starring: Taylor Lautner, Marie Avgeropoulos and Adam Rayner