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Nary a clichéd stone is left unturned in Doham Metha’s debut feature about a twentysomething man desperate to protect his much younger brother from their junkie mother. Starring Taylor Lautner in a more dramatic role than usual, Run the Tide feels familiar in its recycling of indie drama tropes.
In just about every way possible, Lautner here downplays his ridiculously handsome and chiseled looks. As Rey, who lives in a Texas trailer park with his 10-year-old brother Oliver (Nico Christou) and works in a gas station/convenience store owned by his stepfather Bo (Kenny Johnson), he’s scruffier than usual, sports a beard and barely ever takes his shirt off.
The boys’ mother Lola (Constance Zimmer, currently seen on Lifetime’s UnReal), now clean and sober, is about to be released from prison after serving six years on drug charges. When she says that she intends to resume custody of Oliver after she gets out, Rey resolves not to let that happen. Inspired by a chance meeting with a former high school flame (Johanna Braddy) that turns romantic, he decides to move with his brother to California, pretending that they’re only going on a road trip to see the ocean. Lola and Bo are soon in hot pursuit — though not of each other, as made evident when he refuses to get into bed with her. Various misadventures ensue.
Rajiv Shah’s screenplay fails to flesh out its characters and situations in compelling fashion, leaving the actors struggling to bring depth to the sketchy scenario and Mehta’s uninspired direction. Although adequate in action-geared roles, Lautner doesn’t have the dramatic chops to make that happen. In his film debut, child actor Christou similarly flounders, although, to be fair, the perpetually whining Oliver, who still idolizes his mother, is an annoying character. Only the ever-reliable Zimmer, here looking suitably road-worn, manages to stir our emotions.
Distributor: Momentum Pictures
Production company: 1821 Pictures
Cast: Taylor Lautner, Nico Christou, Constance Zimmer, Kenny Johnson, Johanna Braddy
Director: Soham Mehta
Screenwriter: Rajiv Shah
Producers: Terry Douglas, Pilar Savone, Paris Kasidokostas Latsis, Soham Mehta, Rajiv Shah
Director of photography: John Thomas Connor
Production designer: David Batchelor Wilson
Editor: Rick Grayson
Costume designer: Kim H. Ngo
Composer: Tommy Simpson
Casting: J.C. Cantu
Rated PG-13, 94 minutes