Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Paul Walker takes a lot of heat from critics and the like as an actor, debatably because he’s not all that good at it but more likely because he’s tall, fit, blonde and good looking.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of love for pretty boy actors nowadays, or ever for that matter.  Showing up on a cover of Tiger Beat (I assume Tiger Beat is still around) is almost death for an actor trying to be taken seriously in the biz.  Johnny Depp took whatever role he could to distance himself from the Tiger Beat stigma and Keanu, Ben Affleck, Shemar Moore, or any other pretty boy actor you can think of is often the object of scorn and disdain even before whatever project they are in has even been released.  So look like Phillip Seymour Hoffman or get no love.  But movies have always been more about pretty people than talented people so I don’t pity any of these rich handsome super model dating dudes, except Keanu who I suspect doesn’t date supermodels, whose lives are far superior to my own though I am taller than most of those guys at least.  Regardless, this brings us to Paul Walker’s latest star vehicle with ‘The Death and Life of Bobby Z’ which certainly won’t help Mr. Walker’s credibility anytime soon, but is a marginally entertaining piece of slick stupidity that may warrant a look-see. 

Paul Walker is two strike loser and Marine vet Tim Kearney who is in jail this particular time for some crimes of circumstance.  While inside he has fallen out of favor with the Aryan nation lead by some dude played by UFC king Chuck Liddell.  A confrontation leads to Kearney slitting the Aryan dudes throat with a license plate leading to his third strike, but wonder of wonders, he is soon approached by a pair of Federal Agents led by Agent Grusza (Lawrence Fishburne) who have a plan to set him free.  It seems that Kearney bears a remarkable resemblance to legendary drug dealer Bobby Z and Grusza has made a deal with Mexican drug kingpin Don Huerto

(Joaquin de Almeida) to trade Bobby Z – who we are told recently had a heart attack in Thailand – for Grusza’s captured undercover partner.  Kearney, considering what his options are, agrees to the trade but Agent Grusza however is not the most scrupulous cat in the world and at the border the double cross is on.  Kearney manages to escape if only to the hold of Don Huerto who is looking to kill Bobby Z for various reasons to be explained later.

But with a word of warning from Bobby Z’s old girlfriend Elizabeth (Olivia Wilde) our Marine veteran manages to skirt away from Don Huerto’s little Mexican villa, albeit with Bobby Z’s illegitimate eleven year old son Kit (J.R. Villareal) in tow.  There is tons of trouble to had for poor Tim Kearney as he has the evil FBI agent looking for him, Don Huerto’s men looking for him, the dead Aryan dudes biker gang looking for him, the Mexican police force looking for him, and even the few people he thought were his friends are all looking for him to collect the bounty on Bobby Z’s head.  Will Tim / Bobby Z survive?  You know I’m not the one to spoil it for you.

The list of things that made sense is this super slickly produced mess of a flick that Sony Entertainment didn’t even try to release to theaters could fill a thimble, and that’s considering the thimble is half full already.  The list of inconsistencies, plot holes, implausabilities and incomprehensibles are so high and numerous that trying to point them out would require a completely separate essay so we’re just going to let them all go.  But this is certainly a film that will find and hold an audience because it is slickly produced, has chase scenes, fight scenes, some humorous bits and Laurence – I knew him when he was Larry – Fishburne playing a bad guy to the hilt.

For all the flack that Paul Walker gets for being a crappy actor, as far as I can tell - and I’m no Lee Strasberg mind you – he does okay for what he’s asked to do.  I mean how far do you have to stretch yourself in ‘2 fast 2 furious’?  His fight scenes are reasonably convincing, he delivers his lines reasonably well and in this film, like the somewhat similarly slightly more ridiculous but infinitely more entertaining ‘Running Scared’, he a decent leading man / Action Hero type. 

With veteran actors Keith Carradine playing a skuzzy slime ball, again, and Joaquin de Almeida playing a south of the border drug lord, again, ‘Bobby Z’ is a completely forgettable, utterly banal, totally silly, but an altogether harmless piece of Friday night rental material.  Get your Nachos.

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