Released on the fifth anniversary of the late star’s death I AM PAUL WALKER is a look back at his life and career. At ninety minutes this version is a half hour longer than the one that aired on TV earlier this year. I haven’t seen it, I’m thinking for all but die-hard fans it might be the better option.
Walker is, of course, mostly associated with 2001’s THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS and its legion of increasingly ridiculous sequels but he actually made his film debut in a 1986 Troma release MONSTER IN THE CLOSET and followed it with the VHS staple PROGRAMMED TO KILL. Horror fans will also remember him from another
Any film needs drama and conflict to make it interesting and there is almost none here. Paul went from being a successful model to a working actor to a star with almost no effort. There’s no sense of struggle, no sense that there was any chance he wouldn’t become a star.
We do hear that he didn’t want to be a star, that he only came back to modeling and acting because he was constantly broke otherwise. That doesn’t make me feel sympathetic, all he had to do was learn to manage his money like the rest of us do and he could have pursued whatever career he wanted.
It’s the same with his personal life. Born into a good family, blessed with looks and natural athletic abilities he had all the gifts right from the start. Everyone talks about him in glowing terms, what a great person he was, how he remained humble and loyal to friends and family, etc. It’s basically an hour and a half of absolute blandness. Guy is born fortunate, uses that to become famous while staying a great guy.
The film uses lots of interviews, mostly with family and friends to tell the story. Only three film people are interviewed. One co-star, Tyrese Gibson, and two directors. Rob Cohen who directed him in THE SKULLS and THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS and Wayne Kramer who directed RUNNING SCARED, the role Walker got the most critical respect for.
I’m not saying that I AM PAUL WALKER should have been a hit piece on the late actor. Assuming it’s genuine, it’s a nice change from all the negative things we hear about Hollywood. And at an hour long it might have held my interest better. But ninety minutes about what was, until its tragic end, a fairy tale life? That’s dull for all but his most devoted fans. But then again, that’s probably who’ll be watching this.
I AM PAUL WALKER is available on VOD from Virgil Films and on DVD December 4th.