I was somehow afraid this would be another "Twilight". Just bare with me. It's based on a young adult novel that involves teens and otherworldy events. It features a romance that involves a discovery of one's secret identity and supernatural powers. It's hip and glossy. I got scared. I was relieved to discover that this sci-fi thriller, produced by Michael Bay and directed by DJ Caruso ("Disturbia", "Eagle Eye") has a little more cinematic common sense.
The movie is sci-fi thriller, but a big chunk of the movie deals with John adapting to his life on the run, his need to find a place to fit in and all the usual high school coming-of-age stuff. It involves the requisite romance with a fellow student, Sarah (Dianna Agron) and interactions with the awkward kid, Sam (Callan McAuliffe). This part is dull and conventional, although I will give the filmmakers credit for not trying to squeeze the romance bit for maximum sappiness. In fact at some point it becomes quite marginal. The acting doesn't help matters, as most of it, except for Olyphant and Kevin Durand (as the snarly villain), is as flat as a surfboard.
You could say that this is the same children's sci-fi you've seen time and time again, but that doesn't make it less fun. D.J. Caruso has the feel of the story, but doesn't quite know, or perhaps the script doesn't allow him, to craft a fully engaging adventure. It's a nice enough diversion, though. The series of novels is supposed to contain six volumes, but only the first one has been written. The second book came out in August and a possible sequel has yet to be announced. Not that I'm asking for it.