In Run the Tide, a young man named Reymund Hightower (Lautner), has been caring for his ten-year-old brother ever since his mother was sent to prison for drug-related charges seven years prior. Then, when their mother is released, she claims to have recovered and is determined to rebuild their family. In an effort to protect his brother, Reymund kidnaps him and heads for the California coast. Making a desperate break for the life they have always wanted, the boys find themselves closely pursued by their mother – and her ex-husband.
From a dramatic perspective, the film is anchored by Lautner’s performance, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. While he has worked in a variety of projects since he broke out as a shirtless werewolf in the Twilight films (Has it really been 8 years?), his dramatic range remains—shall we say—limited. Still, the later scenes in the film play to his strengths and he manages to pull off some of the more difficult material in the script.
One of the more interesting aspects of the film is the tension between running away and protection. For instance, having been thrown into the role of ‘single parent’ for nearly a decade, Reymund desperately seeks to keep his sibling safe. (Of course, the reality of caring for a 10-year-old when you’re in your early twenties definitely has taken its toll on him.) Despite his age, Reymund wants to protect his brother from his mother and, in the process, teach him to protect himself as well. (This is best exemplified by the recurring message to ‘protect the plate’, as Reymund coaches his brother on how to take a pitch and keep playing.)
At the same time though, Reymund also determines that, instead of confront his issues, the best recourse is to run away from his problems. By kidnapping his brother and driving out to the beaches of Santa Cruz, Reymund yearns desperately for some sense of hope and new beginnings. (This is also where this film’s title comes into play as Reymund explains that fishing boats ‘run the tide’ to find where the spots where most aquatic life resides.) However, in doing so, he also demonstrates the toll than unresolved pain and anger can leave on a person’s soul. Despite the fact that he may find a new place to live, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll find new life. In Reymund, the damage inflicted upon him by his mother in the past has become a very real cage in the present, crippling his ability to move forward. While we empathize with his pain, his lack of desire to deal with his hurt actually taints his protective nature, making it almost selfish in nature. (As a pastor, I recognize that moments like this shed light on the wisdom of passages that suggest we ‘do not let the sun go down on your anger’.)
In the end, the film fails to set itself apart as anything particularly special. While the film does contain a potentially interesting character arc, the performances simply don’t follow through with the material.
If you see this film in theaters, it’s better to run away than Run the Tide.