Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Death and Life of Bobby Z


Directed by
: John Herzfeld
Screenplay: Bob Krakower & Allen Lawrence
Starring: Paul Walker, Laurence Fishburne, Olivia Wilde, Jason Flemying & Joaquin De Almeida

Bobby Z is dead. Sort of. The real Bobby Z, an infamous Californian drug dealer, is presumed dead. Enter Tim Kearny (Walker) the spitting image of Z and a three time screw up now holed up in a maximum security prison. With a biker gang baying for his blood both inside and outside the prison, Kearny is given a second chance at freedom if he poses as Bobby Z in order to infiltrate a notorious Mexican dug cartel and rescue the captured partner of cop Gruzsa (Fishburne). But as is the nature of such undertakings, things don’t go smoothly for Kearny/Z meaning he has to flee, kid in tow, with all manner of Mexican bad guys, biker dudes and shifty cops on his tale.

A sparky little action thriller that always entertains even though it never finds the right balance between comedy and serious, Bobby Z is given a boost by some game performances and some cracking action scenes. Director John Herzfeld (2 Days in the Valley and the underrated 15 Minutes) baths the action in sun drenched vistas and keeps the pace zipping along no matter how convoluted or ridiculous proceedings become. Kearny/Z’s predicament seems to take on ever increasingly unlikely turns, the hard edge the film starts with soon evaporating to make way for lots of bit characters, random plots twists and outlandish action. Based on a book by Don Winslow the screenwriters have obviously exercised a lot of story in order to meet the scant 90 minute run time. An extra 20 minutes or so would have been good for character development and a bit more time on the blossoming relationship between Kearny and the kid he has in tow. Flick would have been better sticking to a serious tone as it tends to fall apart in the more comedy/lighter scenes. However, when the action is onscreen and the tone more tense, Herzfeld gets it right meaning Bobby Z is an often entertaining, if quirky, thriller.

The action scenes are well crafted and often tense in execution and Walker certainly throws himself into the action. The fights are tough and tight, all blocks and take downs with a confrontation between a bunch of Mexican drug thugs in a beach house being a particularly intense and satisfying fight scene. In fact, things build to such an intense state in that scene the film almost blows it with the comedy-esque hi-jinks of the following scenes, the wandering tone diluting the serious action that has come before. Still, for the most part Bobby Z is undemanding, well crafted action entertainment with some fine performances from all the cast.

No comments: