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Paul Walker: Actor or Timber? March 3, 2007

Posted by Ian W in : DVD Viewing Journal , 1 comment so far

Paul Walker has a reputation as a actor so wooden that the only part he’d be at home playing would be Pinocchio. Still, with a director like Clint Eastwood using him in Flags of out Fathers I figured it was time to investigate further.

Timeline

The Americans stick it to the English once again; no doubt this was the appeal to Billy Connelly, what self respecting Scotsman could resist a film that portrays the English as bad guys and has a Scot help the French to victory? This film itself is a silly time travel tale that makes little sense (not uncommon in time travel movies) and thanks to some lacklustre action scenes gives the viewer far too much time to think. Paul Walker is poor as Connelly’s son but he’s not alone with the only decent performance coming from Anna Friel as a French noblewoman. Scriptwriter Jeff Maguire must take much of the blame with the actors given some awful dialogue to deliver and Richard Donner shows that even great directors are capable of cooking up some poultry given the right ingredients.

Into The Blue

We’ve seen this all before, just substitute Paul Walker for Nick Nolte and Jessica Alba for Jacqueline Bisset and you’ve got The Deep. The thing is that film wasn’t even that good and this does nothing to improve on it. There’s some nice underwater cinematography and the site of Alba in skimpy outfits is not displeasing (Walker also wears very little to keep the ladies happy) but neither of the leads stretches there acting abilities. Of the two Hollywood offspring in support – Scott Caan and Josh Brolin – it’s Brolin Jr who fares the best. While his screen time is limited he makes the most of his villainous role while Caan just annoys as Walker’s old school buddy. The film has more than one reference to Jaws and you’d get far more enjoyment from rewatching that classic than this vapid rehash.

Running Scared

A throwback to the old style thrillers of the late seventies/early eighties that no one seems to make anymore. Full to the brim with violence, bad language and gratuitous nudity this is so un-pc you have to love it for that alone. Add to that good performances from Walker (yes you read that right) and Vera (The Departed) Farmiga as his long suffering wife and a plot that takes some unexpected (though in hindsight logical) twists and you get almost two hours of guilty pleasure. The bizarre paedophile sequence may be a touch Tarantinoespue but it still works and it gives Farmiga her best moment in the film. Plus it references John Wayne’s The Cowboys, what more could you want?

Eight Below

I love dog movies; I think it must be some kind of inherited trait that I get from my Dad. So a film about eight sled dogs trapped in the Antarctic was almost guaranteed to please. The big surprise though is how good the human cast are – Bruce Greenwood and Jason Biggs both acquit themselves well but it’s Walker who is the real surprise. Most of the film deals with two separate stories, the dogs trying to survive on there own and Walker trying to raise funds for a rescue trip no one is willing to make. For the film to work you really need to believe in the bond between man and dog and in a relatively short space of time at the beginning of the film Walker manages to convey his characters deep affection for these working dogs. Thanks to director Frank Marshall the film has more of an edge than you’d expect from a Disney film, yet it’s still very much family fare. I’d love to see Nankyoku monogatari the Japanese film this is based on, hopefully someone will put this out on DVD soon.

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