Fri. Aug 12th, 2022


This feels less like betrayal and more like B.S. I wondered if the real, unembellished story were more interesting. Especially after the screen that follows the aforementioned tells us that the real Charlie Walker was charged with 23 felonies and served time in the 1980s. It’s implied that some of these charges were trumped up, possibly due to Walker’s race. I thought, “Wait, what?! Is that true or not?” You can’t just throw something like that in at the end as some kind of “oh, by the way people…” detail. We also see the real Charlie Walker, who tells us what he did with the money the film shows him earning. He seems like a fascinating character just from the little we see of him.

The fictional Charlie is played by Luke Cage’s Mike Colter. Walker is a Black man who owns a truck. He deals with everyday racism as he tries to get gigs in San Francisco. His wife Ann (Safiya Fredericks) narrates the movie with descriptions that constantly tell us how smart, cunning and wonderful her husband is. Her words put a hat on top of a hat, because the movie itself is equally in love with Charlie’s antics. Colter is such a charismatic presence, a smart, funny and commanding force, that we’re willing to follow him anywhere. “I’m Charlie Walker” squanders that goodwill by making Charlie stubborn but flawless. Every move he makes is the correct one, even if it’s legally suspect. Not since Morgan Freeman’s Joe Clark in “Lean on Me” has a real-life person’s ass been kissed more by a movie. At least that movie had superior lips.

Due to the timeframe, “I’m Charlie Walker” looks a lot like a Blaxploitation movie. The poster alone immediately reminded me of the era. That sense of time and place, with its costumes, hairstyles and distrust of the Man, is the best thing about the film. I imagined Jim Brown in Colter’s role, navigating the drugs, hippies, racists, and evil businessmen that populate this film. One minute, Walker is sweet talking a contractor into integrating his team, the next, he’s beating the crap out of bodyguards sent by the film’s Mr. Big to manhandle him. The villain here is oil company president Bennett (Dylan Baker). No stranger to playing bad guys, Baker makes a fine, smarmy foil for Colter’s cool demeanor.

By admin