An Ultimate Prequel
Having shown himself to be more than worthy Jason Stevens (Logan Bartholomew - Love's Abiding Joy) is now in charge of the billion dollar foundation which his late grandfather, Red Stevens (James Garner - The Notebook) set up. And having met Alexia (Ali Hills), whilst proving himself, is on the verge of asking her to marry him. But between the rest of his family wanting to over turn Red's will and the challenges of being in control of a fortune Jason fails to give Alexia the attention she deserves and discovers in a letter that she has gone to Haiti where a children's hospital needs a nurse. Upset by what is going on in his life Jason pays Hamilton (Bill Cobbs - Dear Secret Santa) a visit who hands him Red's journal which tells Jason of not only how he made his fortune but the issues he faced.
First things first and whilst Logan Bartholomew is a good actor, and by the end of "The Ultimate Life" has started to put his own stamp on the role of Jason Stevens, it doesn't feel quite right when Drew Fuller established the character so effectively in "The Ultimate Gift". But whilst you may feel initially disappointed by this obvious change in actor I might as well tell you that the character of Jason and also that of Alexia only bookend "The Ultimate Life" and what we get instead is a prequel to "The Ultimate Gift", the story of Red as told in his journal.
So what does that mean? Well on one hand we get to see how Red made his fortune, learning the power of hard work from an early age when he left home and his negative father. We also see how as a young man he took casual labour on a ranch where he set fence posts, a task which Jason did in the first movie, and as we learned in that first movie he also made his fortune in oil. It nicely ties in pretty much everything we learned in "The Ultimate Gift" right down to the mistakes he made with his family by putting becoming rich ahead of spending time with his children who turned out to be selfish and spoilt, which of course led to some lessons which Red learned along the way.
But what we also get in "The Ultimate Life" is how Red made the various friends in his life. As such we see how he met Gus when he was a labourer and how initially they didn't get on but after serving during WWII they grew to be friends. And of course we also see how Red met Hamilton and whilst it differs from what we learned in "The Ultimate Gift" it works well to establish their friendship and how close Hamilton and Red were. I would guess that if you tried to watch "The Ultimate Life" with out having watched "The Ultimate Gift" it might be a real disappointment because you need to have the connections from the first movie to really appreciate it.
What this all boils down to is that "The Ultimate Life" is still a good movie which works well alongside "The Ultimate Gift". But it doesn't quite have the emotional and inspiring impact of that first movie with a few issues ending up hard to ignore when it comes to some of the acting.