Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Directed by: Daniel Benmayor
Starring: Taylor Lautner, Marie Avgeropoulos, Adam Rayner
When it comes to action films, there are invariably those that are slicker, smarter and more involving than Tracers but there are few that are quite as uniquely imagined. Tracers is a slow film with a casual build towards the finale but it is intersected by bursts of showmanship and stylish sequences that are largely unnecessary, but impressive nonetheless.
Filmed on the streets of New York City, Tracers follows bike messenger Cam (Taylor Lautner) as he desperately needs to find a way of earning a lot of money fast. With a $15,000 debt hanging over his head and his bike having been written off after a high-speed encounter with an alluring young woman called Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos), Cam finds himself swapping deliveries for cat burglaries as he falls in with Nikki’s parkour crowd, all of whom are operating under the watchful eye of Godfather-like figure Miller (Adam Rayner).The plot itself does very little to break new ground in the heist movie genre but it never loses interest and even managed to throw in a couple of genuinely shocking twists as it built towards its final confrontation. What is far more interesting to take note of is the characters – even if they’re frustratingly underdeveloped. Lautner’s Cam is a fairly standard portrayal of a man with a “good heart” who’s in over his depth and just trying to get by, while Marie Avgeropoulos as Nikki offered an engaging performance that was ruined only by the character’s unrealised potential.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that these are real characters. Both Cam and Nikki have the kind of back stories that are worth more than an explanation in a throwaway comment or two halfway through the film – even Miller, who had a secondary but crucial role in terms of storytelling deserved more from his big moment – but as Tracers is less about character development and more about the action thrills, something had to be sacrificed.
The results of that sacrifice are, however, mostly worth it. The parkour sequences receive so much attention that at times it feels like any plot that may be unfolding is just a happy circumstance, but the dizzying camera shots and incredible stunt work is truly a sight to behold. Yes, these scenes are gratuitous but, coupled as they are with a killer soundtrack, they offer some fantastic cinematic moments.
Even beyond the parkour, the camera crew do a brilliant job of capturing an alternative perspective on things, particularly during a rave scene as the camera circled our two leads during a dance in one memorable shot that proved a stand-out moment in the film.
What Tracers lacks in substance it more than makes up for in style. Between breakneck speed action sequences, breathtakingly disorienting camera angles and the chance to see New York City from dizzying new heights, director Daniel Benmayor’s parkour-inspired action drama is an unexpected take on a classic movie genre and a genuinely thrilling delight.