Logan (Zac Efron) is a Marine. He has served 3 tours in Iraq. During his last tour, his platoon is ambushed during a night raid. The morning after, while wrapping things up, he spots something shimmering on the ground. As he goes over to investigate, a mortar lands just where he was standing. The laminated picture that caught his eye saved his life. He carries the picture with him as a good luck charm. Throughout the rest of his time in Iraq, he survives many things he shouldn’t. He vows to find the girl in the picture when he gets home to thank her for protecting him.
The girl in the picture is named Beth (Taylor Schilling). Living with her grandmother, Ellie (Blythe Danner), she runs a dog kennel. She has a son, named Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart). He’s a good kid, but not the “man” his father Keith (Jay R. Ferguson) wishes he was. Keith is kind of a big deal in town. His dad is a well-respected judge running for mayor. And he is the sheriff. The power has gone to his head. And he hasn’t really dealt well with his divorce from Beth.
Logan walks from his sister’s house in Colorado to Louisiana to find Beth. When he gets there, he can’t muster up the strength to tell her his story. Instead, he takes a job at the kennel. Beth is leery. She’s not to fond of him always being around. As time goes by, he starts to grow on Ben and Beth. Much to Keith’s disdain. With Logan’s support, she eventually finds the courage to stand up to Keith. But it comes at a cost.
If you haven’t figured out from the trailers, or the poster, or anything promoting this film at all, it’s a chick flick. Plain and simple. And it carries with it everything that a chick flick should. There’s romance. Tension with the ex. Self-realization and empowerment. All the standard fare.
Zac Efron seems a bit stiffer in this performance than normal. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was him or the character. But I think it should be attributed to him playing a shell-shocked veteran. In which case, he does a good job. Taylor Schilling and Riley Thomas Stewart are also good. Riley doesn’t come across as a kid playing a part in a movie, as so often happens with some young actors. And Blythe Danner adds just enough levity to the film.
As I said, this is standard chick flick material. So that means some predictability. So there aren’t any real surprises. And it’s a decent film. My biggest complaint is how the resolve the conflict that has been building the entire film. It’s a little too “wrapped up nice and tidy with a pretty little bow.” I would have liked to see something a little more developed. I haven’t read the Nicholas Sparks novel, so maybe that’s how he wrote it. If so, he needs to work on the ending a bit.
Other than that, it’s a decent film. I’m sure the ladies will eat it up. Even if they don’t get to see much of Zac topless. Guys will probably see it just because their significant others dragged them there. But, hey. At least it’s half as long as Titanic.