While Zac Efron could do with a few bona fide hits, there’s no doubt that’s he’s got all the prerequisites for stardom – looks, talent and a rather endearing way about him. He certainly brings all that to The Lucky One, but rather like Charlie St. Cloud, he’s let down by a script and tone that takes things a bit too literally and often undermines itself even if it does have its heart in the right place.
Cut straight from the Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Dear John) novel template, Efron is Logan, an Iraq soldier who sees a picture of a beautiful woman on the battlefield. Bending down to pick it up saves him from a violent death, which makes him start to think of the woman as a kind of guardian angel.
Once back in America after his third tour, he finds it difficult to acclimatise himself to civilian life and begins to research who the woman in the photo is, before setting out to find her. He eventually discovers she’s called Beth (Taylor Schilling) and runs a pet training centre. While he initially goes to see her hoping to thank her for saving his life, he ends up getting a job working for her instead. Inevitably this leads to romance, complicated by the fact Beth is still grieving the death of her brother, and has a controlling, rather brutish ex-husband, who uses his position and the threat of getting custody of their son to keep her in her place. Of course there’s also the real reason Logan is there, which begins to become a bigger secret than it ever needed to be.
With Scott Hicks (Shine, The Boys Are Back) in the director’s chair, The Lucky One certainly looks very pretty, and not just because of the facial blessings bestowed upon Efron and Schilling. Many of the ingredients are also present for a big soppy romance that will have people weeping buckets. The problem arises from the fact that so little of it is even vaguely plausible. There are far too many moments that not only don’t make a huge amount of sense, but clearly only happen because the plot wants to hold onto that card so it can try to play it bigger later on. Likewise many of the characters might as well walk round wearing stickers on their head declaring the very obvious role they’ll have to play in proceedings.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about all this is that there was a relatively easy way around it all. Logan’s character talks a lot about fate and things happening for a reason, with the entire plot essentially fitting into the idea of magical realism, where fantastical elements blend with the real world. However the film treats everything in a very straight-faced way, making it increasingly difficult to swallow – instead of seeming like a movie about fate helping to heal two slightly broken people, it becomes about having to accept some increasingly unlikely coincidences and convenient plot turns.
To his immense credit, Zac Efron very nearly pulls it off. He has just the right level of seeming wounded by his experiences on the battlefield, and now looking for peace from a simple life of love and kids in a quiet, rural setting. However there are moments when logic is stretched so far that even Zac can’t give it credibility.
As mentioned though, it all looks very pretty (and many will swoon at Zac wearing just boxer briefs), and that’s certainly brought out by the HD picture of the Blu-ray. Everything is all beautifully lit to give things a romantic air, with the BD image very sharp and with an excellent range of colours.
There are also some okay special features, including the self-explanatory ‘Zac Efron Becomes A Marine’, looking at the training the actor went through to ensure he could make a believable soldier. The other featurettes are worth a look, although they do have a slightly promotional air.
Overall Verdict: It looks great, Efron shows real star charisma and there definitely some romance on display, but the increasing implausibility and plot turns that don’t make much logical sense increasingly undermine things as the film goes on.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac