Tracers (2015)

  • Time: 94 min
  • Genre: Action
  • Director: Daniel Benmayor
  • Cast: Taylor Lautner, Marie Avgeropoulos, Adam Rayner


Wanted by the Chinese mafia, a young New York City bike messenger down on his luck, who just wants to do good, escapes into the world of parkour after meeting a beautiful stranger and her group of Parkour trainers that get him involved in a criminal delivery service for extra money.


  • Not all B-movies are created equal. Take, for instance, Tracers, a generic action picture made watchable by its use of the propulsive and visually dynamic discipline of parkour. The film swipes large chunks of plot from both Point Break and Premium Rush, yet fails to capture their charismatic and visceral power.

    Taylor Lautner plays Cam, a New York City bike messenger in deep debt to a Chinese gang, who keep threatening dire consequences if he does not pay up but seem to keep granting him extensions. Cam is barely scraping by when his bike gets damaged during a run-in with Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos), who piques his interest with her fetching good looks and parkour moves. Out to impress her, Cam starts learning to run, leap, tumble, twist, and bounce off walls and is soon skilled enough to be welcomed by Nikki’s gang of fellow parkour enthusiasts and their leader Miller (Adam Rayner).

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  • “You’re one of those kind of people.
    What kind of people is that?
    Can’t hang on to anything nice.”

    I have difficulties to classify “Tracers” in the right category. Was this a horrible movie? One that merely serves as a filler of unspecified leisure time? Or was it still a movie that was relaxing enough to demand my full attention? Eventually I need to say “Yes” to both questions (although the second one will be a mild “yes”). On the one hand, I could label it as useless pastime. Now, the fact that Taylor Lautner, widely known of the “Twilight” saga, plays a role in it, should make an alarm bell go off. He’s not being asked because of his acting performances. It’s more likely he’s being asked for his attractive looks and athletic body. A kind of human magnet to ensure that hordes of teenage girls sprint to the cinema halls. It was within expectations that the result wouldn’t be very original. Again you’re presented the well-known story with two fresh-looking teenagers accidentally bumping into eachother (literally), getting together and going through some perilous situations. Initially there will be one acting dismissive and in the end everything is hunky-dory and they save themselves out of their predicament. Happy End, smacking kisses and with lots of butterflies in the stomach, they are off to a bright future together. At that level, it’s a first-class film. First-class boring.

    On the other hand it’s an energetic action movie full of smooth and action-packed moments. It wasn’t that boring (if you forget about the childish and stupid storyline for a minute though) to my surprise. “Parkour”, a discipline which originated in France, plays a central role in this film. Large parts of this film show how practitioners of this sport jump,roll and balance through the streets. And this of course in the smoothest way. All this is neatly portrayed without the viewer getting seasick because of the swirling camera. The philosophy of pushing your own limits, is also emphasized enough. Although it sometimes looks like a well prepared circus act where they used cleverly camouflaged trampolines. But besides the admiration for the daredevil stunts these young people performed, there wasn’t really much to admire anymore.

    Cam (Taylor Lautner), an enthusiastic bike messenger, risks his life on a daily base while cycling through the streets of New York to deliver packages. Until he bumps into the lovely Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos). Immediately this bouncing chick makes an immense impression on Cam and at the same time leaves him behind with a double folded front wheel. But no worries. The next day a brand new racing bike is delivered at Cam’s work. A gift from Nikki who obviously couldn’t sleep because of all-consuming regret. However, there’s one annoying problem Cam’s saddled (how appropriate) with. The huge sum of money Cam has borrowed from the Chinese mafia. An obvious fact that he borrowed it from them. At that time all financial institutions were probably on vacation and he needed the money urgently (And I’m still wondering why he needed 15.000 $ and where he spend it) . In time he becomes a member of the group of young people led by Miller (Adam Rayner) who also runs a sort of courier service. The big difference is that they know the contents of the packages and make a lot more money with it. You don’t need to be very clever to guess which decision Cam makes since he feels that Chinese hot breath on the back of his neck.

    At first glance it looks like an episode of “The Little Rascals” but with slightly older rascals who have lots of fun horsing around. The movie needs a very fast pace apparently, looking at the used names. You can read the full list in TGV speed : Cam, Nikki, Miller, Dylan, Tate, Jax, Jerry, Hu, Angie, Joey, Chen, … Monosyllabic names so there isn’t any time wasted when shouting at eachother in a critical situation. Taylor Lautner has the charisma of a freshly baked pancake. If he didn’t have such a trained body with relatively developed biceps, you could slide him easily under a door. Physically he didn’t really change much since the last time I saw him acting (cough) in “Abduction” (Actually, also a movie you’d better forget). And the few pubic hairs that grew on his face, won’t help much either. He still looks like a teen.

    Similarly, the graceful Avgeropoulos, whose name sounds more mature than she looks. At times I wondered if it’s illegal to undertake such activities with someone like her in the state of New York, because she still looks like a minor to me. A spindly little girl with an angel face and a supple,graceful body. The lack of female basic components was a plus for her as a “Parkour” adept. And correct me if I’m wrong but is this “Parkour” business extremely easy to learn ? I guess so. First and foremost you have to be physically in top form. And besides that, you must have a smart phone so you can use your 4G connection to watch instructional videos on “YouTube” and then firmly exercise by jumping against walls and trees, conquer banisters and run over roofs. Occasionally crashing on the ground, is part of it of course. I suppose it’s that simple, since Cam also got the hang of it this way. And finally Miller, the mastermind behind the whole operation, isn’t such a smart guy either. He only has two rules members should adhere to, and he can’t remember both of them eventually.

    Teenage girls will crawl into their bed pretty excited after watching “Tracers”. Admittedly I can imagine that this will appeal to large market share and that it was quite attractive for the creators of this meaningless film to start this project. Personally, I found it a typical product of today’s consumption society : view it, digest and forget. The day Lautner loses his sixpack, it will be extremely difficult for him to get certain roles, I fear. I’m sure that when you register at some sports club in the future, you’ll get this movie as a free bonus together with a bunch of drink tickets and an XL towel. The only thing I missed at the beginning of the film was a “Do not try this at home” warning as in Jackass!

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  • Quickie Review:

    Burdened by the debt he owes the Chinese mafia, Cam (Taylor Lautner) must find a quick way to earn money. In his desperation he joins a group of street runners who use their skills to commit high-paying crimes. Cam soon finds himself in criminal world with higher stakes than he expected. Other than the parkour scenes there is no other redeemable quality to Tracers. In fact there is a severe lack of quality in acting and story logic. This should have been a simple crime-heist movie with some parkour action in it. Instead there are numerous instances of forced drama that you will not care about at all. This movie is simply a waste of time.

    Full Review:

    Let’s be blunt here, other than the Twilight fans nobody is looking forward to a Taylor Lautner movie. Then again I used feel the same way about Kirsten Stewart and Robert Pattinson, but lately they have been making good decisions in choosing their roles. So I thought I’d give Lautner the benefit of the doubt. I was wrong.

    I’ll give Tracers this, the parkour scenes were well done. There were plenty of these chase scenes and they did bring some excitement in an otherwise dull movie. It’s not to the skill level of parkour master David Belle in the French film District B13, but the chase scenes were certainly the best parts of movie. That’s where the kudos end for me.

    I think everyone would agree that movies should try to make us empathise with the main characters. However, the writers try to achieve this by going overboard and giving everyone a troubled past. I mean we have characters who are in deep debt with the Chinese mafia, have been abandoned by their father, had a mother who died after being evicted, living on scraps on the streets, attempted sexual assault victim. With all these problems and horrible past I’m shocked they are even functioning human beings! Every other scene is some character deeply brooding about how their hoping for a better life. Then there is a love story that doesn’t make sense beyond “hey you’re kinda hot, I’m kinda hot. Let’s get it on.” Oh and of course that comes with an obligatory love triangle that you see coming from miles away. There is no chemistry because the dialogue and the performances are cringe worthy. Honestly, why these people are even interacting together makes no sense. As if the movie wasn’t bloated enough with unnecessary backstories, there are random twists and turns in the story that are very illogical because there was no previous setup.

    I am sure some will say I’m overthinking this. No, I’d argue it’s the writers who overthought this movie. There was a good hook here: using parkour skills to pull off heists. All that was needed was a simple story to give reason for these chase scenes, but they try to add drama with poorly written characters and the laughable performances didn’t help either. Definitely not worth parkour running out to see it.

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