Let’s quote David Belle on “parkour” (after all, the French actor/athlete practically invented the sport, inspired by his father, Raymond): I would say it’s an art of escape and pursuit. It’s also a method of physical training using obstacles as well as a way of learning how to respond to emergency situations. Behind parkour there’s a philosophy. For me, it was mainly a quest for freedom. This is a kind of an active meditation because it forces you to focus… Which lets you forget the rest and get away … ” (Quoted on local4share.com)
Hmmm, that sounds overly scholarly for an activity that is highly visual. Think of James Bond leaping over obstacles in a chase scene early in the 2006 Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale (actually stuntman Sebastien Foucan, who has developed his own variation on “parkour” called “free running”) or search Youtube for a Madonna music video (“Jump”) in which Madge, kitted out in blond bob and black leather, performs the song, while Foucan and his friends leap across rooftops and practice other death-defying examples of “parkour” in the Tokyo urban landscape. Better still, check out 2004’s District 13 (if the idea of a gourmet action flick appeals to you. Belle,the co-star of the film – in other words, he does his own stunts – is amazing.)
Practioners of the sport are known as “traceurs”. According to urbandictionary.com a “traceur” is defined as One who practices flowing through a given environment as efficiently as possible with only the aptitudes of the human body and an assortment of techniques .David Belle once said something along the lines of “A good traceur trains until he/she gets it right. An excellent traceur trains until he/she cannot get it wrong.”
The paper thin plot of 2015’s Tracers by screenwriter Matt Johnson (2004’s Torque ) has Taylor Lautner’s “character” in debt to a loan shark and hooked up with a youthful gang who use their parkour skills to steal stuff. There is plenty of smash and grab camerawork accompanied by an adrenalized soundtrack in the parkour scenes but not much else
Evidently director Daniel Benmayor (a film-maker with movies like 2009’s Paintball to his, uh, credit) has attempted to put an Americanized spin on the sport and by hiring former Twilight hunk Lautner the aim seems to be to make parkour look as cool as skateboarding.
It should have worked. Whether it was poor word of mouth or inept marketing, the flick did not even recoup its investment (according to figures provided by the-numbers.com). Just as well. Probably saved a few broken necks.
As one member of the gang tells Mr. Lautner’s character, “This is dangerous stuff. You could get hurt if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
The jury is still out on the future of fresh-faced Canadian-born actress Marie Avgeropoulos (who plays Mr. Lautner’s romantic interest) but Mr. L, on the basis of this pic could become a direct to video action hero for tweenagers if he so wishes.