A movie taking on topics like Iraq and surviving post-traumatic stress disorder but really about neither, Scott Hicks’ The Lucky One may be a description of the ex-marine protagonist in question, but any speculation about the audience in attendance is another matter. Part holy grail quest road movie and part needle in the haystack cross-country premeditated romance, The Lucky One pretty much settles for a sudsy scenario, when it might have soared.
Zac Efron is Logan, a combat soldier just returned from his third deployment in Iraq. Afflicted with intermittent flashbacks and troubled by the photo of a woman he found there that seems to have belonged to a dead soldier, Logan heads off cross-country on foot to find her. And apparently wanders into her life right away off some beaten path or another in small town North Carolina, before you may have downed even a handful of popcorn.
The woman in question is Beth (Taylor Schilling). She’s the sister of the dead soldier and a single mom running a dog kennel with her sage when not nosy grandmother Nana (Blythe Danner). And who insists that Logan has turned up to answer her ad seeking a kennel assistant, before he has a chance to say otherwise.
Beth is also essentially a shrinking violet. At least in so far as fearfully allowing herself to be bullied by her estranged husband Keith (Jay R. Ferguson), the local sheriff and tyrannical ex-spouse relentlessly pressuring Beth to reconcile.
Which not only provides a rather weak narrative pretext for keeping incendiary erotic fires between Beth and Logan to a dull simmer for most of the duration, until Zac’s big shower sex scene stuck in strictly for his female fans. But is a real head scratcher when it comes to Beth’s submissive personality, if you happen to have caught Schilling in her last role in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. In which her ballsy babe right wing railroad tycoon with no patience for those pesky unions or government safety regulators, puts her elite gym body on the line to advocate leaving the billionaires alone to mind their own big business.
In any case, boy loses girl because she fears the sheriff, and boy gets girl after a much too convenient accident in a storm. And if those plot points coming at you full speed ahead from the starting gate don’t sufficiently grab you, there’s a really annoying Mark Isham sappy soundtrack beating you over the head, to make sure the movie will.