I like Paul Walker; I tend to enjoy his movies. However my experience with Paul Walker starts with JoyRide and ends with Running Scared. (we’ll ignore the Fast and the Furious) So I was kinda excited at the chance to review Bobby Z, a straight to video release that also starred the clever Laurence Fishburne. Two fun actors in what looked like to be a fun action movie. The basic premise was that Tim Kearney (Paul Walker’s character) is plucked from a prison by Tad Gruzsa (Laurence Fishburne’s character) and his assistant because he looks exactly like the infamous Bobby Z, a drug runner who is supposedly dead. So, Kearney takes on the persona of Bobby Z and is used in a trade for a federal agent that was captured. Of course the deal goes horribly wrong and Kearney finds himself in the Mexican desert. Here he has to stay in the Bobby Z persona as he finds out that Bobby Z had a kid among many other plot points. This drives forward to a conclusion with some predictable twists where Kearney does everything he can to stay alive.
The movie runs ninety four minutes , for the first 40-50 minutes of the movie I was really enjoying myself. The plot started off so strong and the actors (particularly Walker & Fishburne) showed off their wares. The action was intense but not overdone. Then something happened in the last half of the movie. It became dull and incredibly clichéd. Every single cliché about either an action movie or a drama that used the idea of somebody impersonating somebody else is used. It’s borderline scary how much just seems borrowed. Tough hard-nose prison guy suddenly develops heart of gold; check. The character he’s impersonating has a kid; check. There is a girl who is still in love with the original character but remarks how much he’s changed; check. I would go on; but in the event you can’t guess the ending I’ll stop there. There is even a scene near the end that borrows from Bugs Bunny shorts (think duck season, wabbit season). Not to mention the ending seems a little too cookie cutter and proceeds to just say okay everybody lives happily ever after; the end. When given the situation in a more realistic setting there would be some serious questions to be answered here.
Picture is provided in the option of 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and 1.33:1 Fullscreen. Color is very strong here and all of the actors look great. The scenery from Mexico including the desert looks really good and surprisingly authentic for a direct to video release. None of it feels low budget and looks good all around.
Sound is provided in English and French Dolby Digital 5.1. The sound is excellent and easily the film’s strongest feature. Action scenes will stir up your ears and drum up the bass with good frequency. It’s not perfect (doesn’t come quite up to Running Scared quality), but it will keep you interested as long as you don’t get too involved in the cliches. Subtitles are also provided English, French and Spanish.
Automatic Trailers – Blu-Ray (seems pretty ironic for them to advertise this on a DVD disc),Hostel Part 2, & Rise Blood Hunter.
Previews – Walking Tall: Lone Justice, Vacancy, The Contractor, The Last Time, Revenge Director’s Cut / Donnie Brasco Extended Cut, & Wind Chill
Behind the Scenes of Bobby Z 11:00– A simple and quick documentary that takes you behind the scenes. Mostly fluff but a few nice tidbits of info here.
The Life and Times of Bobby Z or Bobby Z proves that not all straight to video releases are bad. However, there is almost always a reason as to why they are straight to dvd.
The action is very well done and for the first half of the movie its totally enjoyable (it even has a real plot). What happens by the end of the movie is that starts grabbing a cliché from everywhere that isn’t nailed down. It also starts to drag just a bit once it gets through to the cookie cutter end which is a little too clean for my tastes. The dvd has some great video and great sound but has very little in ways of extras. There is a semi-important cameo in the way of Chuck Liddell, UFC star. His character becomes the focus of his “brothers'” revenge later on. Sad to say the actual role was way too short and even involved a dropping the soap reference I could have done without. Anyhow, Paul Walker or Laurence Fishburne fans should pick this one up as a rental. The rest might want to wait until it is firmly in your $5 bargain bin.
DVD Verdict’s Judge David Johnson – “Guilty of Mediocrity in the Second Degree”