This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 2nd October 2011
This teenage rendition of a wannabe Bourne movie opens with devil-may-care Nathan clinging in fearless excitement to the bonnet of his friend’s truck. Literally hurtling into a party, the lads ogle girls and knock back beers, and there is little to suggest that within 24 hours, Nathan’s life will be turned upside down and he’ll be on the run. Little, that is, except his father (Jason Isaacs) forcing him to fight like a pro boxer, and recurring nightmares, which leave him feeling “different to everyone else”.
Woefully miscast, Twilight‘s Taylor Lautner flexes plenty of beef but, alas, no acting chops. He may well have an action career ahead of him, but his lack of emotional range requires eye-drops and clenched fists to show us how he’s feeling. Diagnosed by an awkward Sigourney Weaver as having “insomnia, impulsivity and rage issues” in a script full of shortcuts, it can’t help but be laughable when the baddy (the obligatory foreigner played by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s Michael Nyqvist) threatens to kill every friend Nathan has on Facebook.
Director John Singleton knows a thing or two about camaraderie and neighbourhood violence, having shot to fame with Boyz N the Hood when he was just 23, following up years later with Four Brothers. He’s aiming for a good caper movie here too, with fight scenes aplenty and car chases from dubious CIA officers. It’s a good premise – a young man’s search for the truth about who he is – but, as with Nathan’s attempt at parkour in the final chase scene, ultimately dull and mishandled.