I Am Paul Walker Review – Honest, Heartfelt, Genuine

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I Am Paul Walker, from Virgil Films, Network Entertainment and Paramount Network, presents a behind the scenes documentary that captivates with never before seen footage and interviews with family, friends, co-stars and colleagues, building an endearing and lasting respect.

 

Directed by Adrian Buitenhuis, I Am Paul Walker stars Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Rob Cohen, Cody Walker, Erick MacArthur, Caleb Walker, Matt Luber, Oakley Lehman, Andy Muxlow, Paul Walker III, Ashlie Walker, Cheryl Walker, Rhett Walker, Sean Lee, David Marquez and Michael Domeier.

The documentary begins with The Fast and The Furious co-star Tyrese Gibson, explaining the deep loss that everyone felt and why. Paul, he said, "was the most genuine person he had ever met."

He goes on to explain how it wasn't simply that he gave back or helped people, is was that he understood the Hollywood machine and knew the length of the ride was up to him.


 

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The doc then moves back to Sunland-Tujunga, 1988, it's Paul's 13th birthday. The documentary is filled with these intimate personal moments of his early life that really establish who Paul Walker was as a person.

His family was grounded; he was the fourth Paul William Walker. His father, a Purple Heart recipient in Vietnam, competed and won on the national level in handgun competitions. His grandfather also a military veteran, survived the Pearl Harbor Attack and was rescuing trapped soldiers from sunken battleships. He was also a boxer fighting at Madison Square Garden and going the distance as it is told.

So the brothers, Paul and Caleb, and by extension friend's stuntman Oakley Lehman, childhood friend Andy Muxlow and all reflected on the days, times, seasons and events that made their childhood this great, unburdened, free time. Being from Sunland-Tujunga, the sunny days of southern California always had them outdoors. And the guys talk about the memorable moments that shine past the conclusion.  

The family vacations were always at Carpentaria, camping on the beach and really falling in love with the ocean, and developing a lifelong bond that would, even when he graced the Marquee, beckon and as we find out Paul would be gone . . . surfing somewhere.

Mrs. Walker, Paul's mom, Cheryl, talks freely about raising her sons in Mormon faith and how she believes that anchored him as a person. Religion was never a part of the bigger picture, although the principals of the faith held fast it appears.

She also talked about how she knew he was born with sun-kissed looks, the typical southern California surfer, hang ten, dude and all-American jock. He was blonde, blue-eyed, chiseled or as his family said, "he was born pretty and stayed that way."

His mom was smart enough to capitalize on that image as a child and while many only know Paul from The Fast and The Furious franchise he worked from early childhood on commercials and with the late Michael Landon on the television show, "Highway to Heaven."

Outside of the first interview with Tyrese Gibson, the documentary is chronological. After graduating high school, he decided to answer the call of the ocean and he and his friends, traveled the California coast camping at every beach where the break was good.

After a summer of surfing, and an empty wallet, he decided to give acting a shot and felt like there was a chance at making something of it because of the child acting gigs.


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Matt Luber was hired as Paul's Manager. And as he tells the story, Paul was always one foot in one foot out of the business. The two worked together for 18 years and Luber also says, "Paul did him right and he did Paul right."

To hear his family tell the story, one can understand as the process of securing the roles was easy for Paul. He had the looks, and an intensity about him that when he looked at you, it was felt. He secured call-backs on 80% of his auditions. Which made it all seem easy.

Acting as an adult had a few more glitches to it and his first starring role began with Meet the Deedles a full on comedy with action scenes that he enjoyed. Soon after it was Pleasantville, as Luber explains his first big co-starring role opposite Reese Witherspoon. After he was Lance Harbor in Varsity Blues, which he loved.

Then came The Skulls with Director Rob Cohen. He remembers his first impression of Paul was exactly what everyone saw at first glance. Finely chiseled, jock, surfer, very good looking with piercing blue eyes. Only the role wasn't eye candy. Cohen gave him a call-back and explained what he needed and expected. And to Paul's credit he took every direction and came back and nailed it.

Meeting Rob Cohen changed the direction of Paul's career. After The Skulls, he told him whatever you're doing "I'm in." Little did he know what Cohen was working on was The Fast and The Furious. One year after The Skulls, The Fast and The Furious released and Paul was catapulted to international stardom.

After the lead up the screen fades to black with November 30, 2013. The day of the Charity Reach Out Worldwide Toy Drive, celebrity appearances, fast exotic cars and the fans who showed up with unwrapped gifts. As the event was ending he and driver Roger Rodas, were blowing out the pipes in a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT when Rodas, who was driving, lost control.


 

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The family doesn't hold-back as they retell the moment they found out. The expression of loss, the wrenching emotions, the outpouring of support. The feelings are palpable.

What followed after the accident is known worldwide, the cause of death, the fireball, the violence associated with the death of someone who was genuinely good, it's hard to understand why bad things happen to good people.

To hear everyone tell it, he was a good person and it wasn't a publicity grab to surf the wave of sorrow. In the five years since, he has been remembered by cast members, by friends and even those in the studio star making machine.

With more than thirty additional minutes of interviews and footage than the previously aired televised version, I Am Paul Walker explores his life and legacy, with endearing behind the scenes footage, and archival footage of Paul throughout his career. With additional insights by those who knew him and loved him honoring the late actor who passed away November 30, 2018.

I Am Paul Walker will be available on On-Demand and streaming platforms with a DVD released planned December 4, 2018.

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