Bobby Z Movie Review
Former Marine and perpetual bad boy Tim Kearney (Paul Walker) has been asked to do just that. Serving a long prison sentence for all manner of illegal activities, Kearney is given conditional release if he's willing to impersonate the missing Bobby Z. DEA agent Tad Grusza (Laurence Fishburne) sets Kearney up for the exchange. Kearney looks enough like Bobby Z to pass muster, but the exchange goes to hell and Kearney is left to fend for himself. When he's captured and taken to Don Huerto's (Joaquim de Almeida) palatial Mexican estate, he meets Bobby Z's old flame Elizabeth (the striking Olivia Wilde) and her teenaged son, Kit, who just might be his (well, Bobby Z's) kid. Because Kearney isn't Bobby Z, and because he's far too brash and selfless, all sorts of trouble ensues.
Bobby Z is, frankly, preposterous. Not only is the whole Kearney/Bobby Z switcheroo absurd (Kearney's given just a few days to "become" another person) but Grusza's reasons for setting up this elaborate hoax are really strained. Yet, ridiculous plot machinations aside, the film moves at a quick clip and never takes itself too seriously. That's a very good thing. (Think the bastard child of Zorro and Commando.) And as with every crime film made today, there are all manner of Tarantino-like quips, asides, and one-liners. Today's cons can't be brutes; they've got to be quirky. Today's cops can't be donut-munching caricatures; they've got to be punsters.
Paul Walker has been in a string of similar films. He's got a movie star mug and the everyman persona to fill the boots of any cop or ex-con. (In Walker's films, those roles are almost interchangeable.) He channels a surfer vibe as though he learned to act by watching Keanu Reeves in Point Break. It's a cool swagger and a knowing ice-eyed gaze. Most of the time it works. Lawrence Fishburne goes way over the top as the smarmy cowboy Tad Grusza. He's both menacing and laughable. But the actors aren't the draw here. It's the action. And indeed, Bobby Z does deliver on stunts. Whether it's horse vs. dirtbike action or bloody fisticuffs, the melees are well-timed and choreographed but not very gritty. There is no down and dirty violence and no sense of real danger. Frankly, the action is so cartoonish and the flick so slickly shot, it's like an overproduced pop song. It just feels phony.
Comical and gimmicky to a fault, Bobby Z will appeal to action cinema's less demanding fans. There's a reason this went straight to DVD, folks.
The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette.
Aka The Life and Death of Bobby Z.
Cast & Crew
Director : John Herzfeld
Producer : Matt Luber, Heidi Jo Markel, Keith Samples, Larry Schapiro, Peter Schlessel
Screenwriter : Bob Krakower, Allen Lawrence