I Am Paul Walker
Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Rob Cohen
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When it comes to intimate documentary portraits, producer Derik Murray has cornered the market. In a series of fascinating big and small screen films (I Am Bruce Lee, I Am Steve McQueen, I Am Chris Farley, I Am Sam Kinison, I Am Heath Ledger), he has effectively celebrated the lives and careers of a diverse group of performers who were all snatched away far too soon. And while Murray’s latest subject may not have the cultural and artistic significance of the aforementioned game-changers, the highly affecting I Am Paul Walker proves that the titular actor – best known for the Fast & Furious series – was a far more interesting figure than his cinematic oeuvre may have suggested.
Featuring extensive interviews with most of Paul Walker’s family members, along with a treasure trove of archival footage, I Am Paul Walker (like most of Derik Murray’s films) makes no apologies for its loving, affectionate tone. All the remembrances of the handsome movie star are glowing and effusive, but this still stands as much more than simple hagiography. Walker was an occasionally difficult figure deeply at odds with his chosen career, and the doco dives right into that, sketching in the actor’s habit of “dropping out”, with the California surfer boy often opting to hit the waves instead of tending to his booked-in movie commitments. A full-tilt adrenaline junkie, Walker was constantly chasing excitement and stimulation.
Obsessed with the ocean and determined to create a decent and loving home for his daughter (who Walker had at a very young age), the actor appeared to be drifting further and further away from his Hollywood career, instead throwing his energy into various aquatic charities. Where he would have ended up will tragically remain a mystery, with Walker’s life sadly cut short in 2013 by an auto accident. More interested in the real Paul Walker than the on-screen one (featured industry players are here restricted to 2 Fast 2 Furious co-star, Tyrese Gibson, directors, Rob Cohen and Wayne Kramer, and Walker’s longtime agent), I Am Paul Walker is a sensitive, deeply moving look at a profoundly well-loved man.