The Lucky One is an adaptation of the bestselling Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, and follows U.S. Marine Logan Thibault (Efron) returning home after his third tour of duty. Eight months prior to his tour ending, Logan's team crossed paths with another U.S. patrol, followed soon thereafter by an insurgents' ambush. With the battle won, Logan spotted a photo of a woman shining in the dust and rubble, and while walking over to pick it up, a bomb explodes right where he was standing a moment earlier. Deeming the photo to be his guardian angel, he carries it everywhere, making the promise to himself that when he returns, he will find the girl in the photo, to thank her.
The girl in the photo is Beth Green (Taylor Schilling), single mother to Ben, who with her grandmother Ellie (Blythe Danner) runs the local dog kennels. Logan is true to his word and seeks her out, after one of the longest dog walks in movie history with his adorable German Shepherd Zeus, and when he does eventually find her and tries to tell her the reason for finding her, he struggles, haunted by too many bad battlefield memories.
Despite the scars, there's a certain chemistry between Logan and Beth, once she loses the distrust she has of him in the beginning and gets a prod in his direction from Ellie; with all single parents, though, there seems to always be a vulnerability usually summed up with one word, "custody" and this is true too with Beth: everything she does is closely monitored by her bully of an ex-husband and local deputy Keith (Jay R. Ferguson), Ben's father. The custody issue, surprisingly, makes for a half-decent sub-plot running through the movie.
Taylor Schilling was the perfect foil for Efron who is playing a part that you could say is well within his comfort zone. Though the film is highly predictable, some may expect a lot more with "Shine" director Scott Hicks at the helm, and he should be credited with the fact he did not make it some sloppy love story, instead weaving some element of believability into it. It has one or two great visuals and some humorous lines to keep everyone watching happy, even those perhaps not too much in the mood for Nicholas Sparks fare.