The lives of a young couple intertwine with a much older man as he reflects back on a lost love while he’s trapped in an automobile crash.
The two-hour-plus “Ride,” No. 10 in the series, at least offers a few intriguing new variations on the usual Sparks formula of pretty bland people falling in love against a backdrop of verdantly green landscapes most often located in coastal North Carolina. For instance, this might be one of the few movie plots in history to prominently feature both bull riding and art appreciation.
How are they tied together, you might ask? Not with a bedazzled lasso. Instead, college sorority sister and art history major Sophia (Britt Robertson, who also stars in the summer tentpole “Tomorowland”) and cowboy Luke (Scott Eastwood ) meet cute at a rodeo event—he drops his hat, she picks it up—and instantly take a shine to one another.
The former bull-riding champ is on the comeback trail, as we are told time and again, after suffering a great injurious fall while competing atop a snorting demon of a beast called Rango, a breakout performance to be sure. You ain’t seen nothing if you haven’t witnessed a bull buck and rear up in a circle with slo-mo snot flying out of its nose. Meanwhile, this Jersey-bred gal is heading to the Big Apple in two months for a gallery internship. He is a whole lot country—shucks, he even brings a grocery-store-quality bouquet of flowers to their first date and serves her BBQ out of the bag al fresco—and she is a whole lot of anything but.
But with Luke having to be around bulls to make a living and such livestock being fairly scarce in Manhattan save for Wall Street, he and Sophia don’t seem to have much of a future. But then fate, which is never more fickle than when it materializes in a Sparks film, intervenes. As the twosome head home in Luke’s red Ford pickup truck (product placement, including Apple and Budweiser, is rampant in Sparks-landia), they happen upon a car that slid off the road. Inside is an elderly man that they transport, along with a basket filled with old letters, to the hospital.