The Lucky One: "In A War, Finding Something Like That, Is Like Finding An Angel"

Director: Scott Hicks
Writer:    Will Fetters
Starring: Zac Efron
               Taylor Schilling
               Blythe Danner
               Jay R. Ferguson
               Riley Thomas Stewart
Rating:    ***

Release Date: Out Now

When thinking of Hollywood actor that would be best to portray a US Marine, you'd be more likely to look at people like Tom Hardy or Mark Wahlberg. However, in the new Nicholas Sparks drama, The Lucky One, slightly more appropriate choices aren't really made, and we are instead given the questionable casting of former High School Musical star Zac Efron, leading the film as a traumatised veteran of three Iraq tours.

Logan (Efron) sees friends drop like flies as he dodges death on two occasions while on duty. He puts all of this good luck down to a photograph of a young woman he discovers in the sand. When he returns to the US, he sets out to find this mysterious "guardian angel" and pass on his thanks.

(L-R) Taylor Schilling & Zac Efron
When he eventually meets the girl, Beth (Schilling), a single mother who works at a dog kennel, a mix-up leads to him landing a handyman job and the pair's initially awkward relationship blossoms into something more passionate. Matters are complicated by the intimidating presence of Beth's ex, Keith (Ferguson), and his reluctance to come clean about the picture, which belonged to her Marine brother who died on duty.
Sparks is now established as a Hollywood brand, so director Scott Hicks finds himself really restricted and held back by the formula. Logan and Beth resist each other at first, then fall deeply in love before being forced apart, typical stuff really. This formula is now getting extremely boring. There's also room for a cute kid (Stewart), to really tug at the ol' heartstrings, and of course a lovable senior citizen with health issues (Danner).

Fans of Efron will no doubt swoon at his boyish good looks and buffed-up body, but even with a shower sex scene (ooohhhh cheeky) there's still a noticeable lack of spark between him and newcomer Schilling.

The success of Sparks's The Notebook relied heavily on the superb chemistry between stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. Despite all its extremely worn out clichés, the sweeping romance worked because you were invested in Noah and Allie. The Lucky One's central couple lack the same appeal, chemistry and acting ability to really pull it off, and make the audience care.
Blythe Danner

Efron is continuing that rather awkward transition from teen star to serious actor, ditching the physically vibrant and tweeny bopper song-and-dance roles in favour of more mellow, contained characters. Playing a war veteran in The Lucky One may seem like a move out of his comfort zone, but in a cliche driven tear-jerker such as this he's still riding on his heartthrob image, riding on them just like he always has. To really reinvent himself he is going to have to choose roles that are completely out of the blue, no romantic leads...I'm talking murderous villains and psychopaths. Then and only then will we forget Troy Bolton and Link Larkin.

The Lucky One - Trailer