Faster is your standard revenge flick offering little new to the formula yet still succeeds thanks in part to a surprisingly good performance by Dwayne Johnson who is in his element while Billy Bob Thornton gives is usual off-kilter performance we all know and love.
Genre(s): Action, Crime
Sony | R – 98 min. – $34.95 | March 1, 2011
Directed by: George Tillman, Jr.
Writer(s): Tony Gayton & Joe Gayton (written by)
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Carla Gugino, Maggie Grace, Moon Bloodgood, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Tom Berenger, Jennifer Carpenter
Theatrical Release Date: November 24, 2010
Features: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Animatics, movieIQ, BD-Live
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 3/5
Faster is one of those movies that knows what it is and doesn’t pretend its high art or about anything more than its core premise which can be summed with one word: revenge. Yeah, it’s a dish best served cold and this sure is a cold movie through and through.
The film opens with Driver (DWAYNE JOHNSON) getting out of prison after serving a stint for being involved with an armed robbery. After getting a talking to by the warden (TOM BERENGER), he goes straight from prison and running several miles in the desert comes upon a junk yard with a muscle car waiting and a gun in the dash compartment. He drives straight to a marketing call center, walks right in and his subject immediately recognizes him and BANG, Driver shoots him dead, right in front of cameras and co-workers. Now we know that Driver couldn’t care less if people know, the man is on a mission.
It’s revealed later that he and the others got away from the police, they are double crossed at their safe house when another gang busts in and after torturing them, finds the money and kills everyone including his brother and supposedly Driver who was shot in the back of the head. Well, although he did die, somehow the bullet went through the back of his head but exited his cheek missing any important brain matter apparently.
On his trail are two detectives, Cop aka Slade Humphries (BILLY BOB THORNTON) – yes, that’s how he’s credited – and Cicero (CARLA GUGINO) after Driver gets his second victim, a child molester who was about to claim his latest victim. But the detectives aren’t the only two going after Driver as an assassin hired to track and kill him is also in hot pursuit. The assassin, known as Killer (OLIVER JACKSON-COHEN), is looking for a challenge as he always wants to push himself to the extreme but is now also looking to settle down with his hot girlfriend (MAGGIE GRACE) who knows what he does and helps in his endeavors.
With those three in pursuit, Driver runs down the others in the crew that killed his brother one by one and tries to find the person who set them all up. Buckle up because it’s going to bumpy ride [or insert your own clichéd tagline here].
Faster might be the ultimate revenge flick for some, but I found it a bit pedestrian at times as it doesn’t exactly leave too much mystery, or at least as much mystery as the filmmakers wanted. In fact, I kind of knew the end probably halfway through the movie. Where the film does go right is with Dwayne Johnson. I still don’t think he’s a fantastic actor but after revisiting some Arnold Schwarzenegger’s old flicks, if I can accept Arnie as an actor, then Johnson is way ahead of the curve and certainly improved since his feature film starring debut in The Scorpion King.
The supporting cast meanwhile fills out their roles well enough. Billy Bob Thornton isn’t a whole lot different from his previous performances playing oddball characters, in fact it’s when he takes the “normal” roles that are more of a rarity (see: Armageddon). Carla Gugino and newcomer Oliver Jackson-Cohen – he made his debut in the romantic comedy Going the Distance (http://moviemansguide.com/main/2010/12/review-goingthedistance-bd/#more-1631) – both give decent performances in limited roles, albeit Jackson-Cohen (who kind of resembles Jake Gyllenhaal) has a larger role compared to Gugino.
As I said in the beginning, there’s not a whole lot behind Faster as it is what it is with perhaps only the mystery aspect being the wild card. It was directed by George Tillman, Jr. (Men of Honor, Notorious) and written by Tony (Murder by Numbers) and Joe Gayton (Bulletproof).
While it doesn’t exactly deliver anything new in terms of story or characters, I guess I would give this a moderate or lukewarm recommendation and if you are somebody who enjoys simple revenge flicks then this certainly is up your alley. For me, I didn’t enjoy it as much, but concede that there are some great kick ass moments that will entertain you.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.75/5
Alternate Ending (11:12; HD) – This is actually a bit different from the movie as Killer and Driver face off and end their own little dance rather than Killer driving off into the sunset and live happily ever after. The scene starts off well enough but becomes a tad silly and makes no sense in regards to his car which gets smashed up in one scene but is perfectly drivable in the next. This comes with an optional director’s introduction (1:30; HD) explaining why it was not used.
Deleted Scenes (7:54; HD) – There are 5 scenes removed and while they’re pretty good on their own, they don’t add too much to the plot. This too comes with optional director’s introductions (TRT 2:56; HD).
Criminals and Cops: The Cast of Faster (12:12; HD) is your basic featurette on the casting of the film with the cast and crew talking about the characters and the plot. ** Blu-ray Exclusives **
Weapons and Wheels: The Guns, Cars and Stunts of Faster (11:54; HD) examine, obviously, the various props, vehicles and stunt work used in the movie. There’s more behind-the-scenes footage mixed in with sound bites with cast and crew members.
There are also four animatics (12:22; HD) and Sony’s movieIQ which provides trivia while watching the movie.
There are also previews for Quarantine 2: Terminal, Green Hornet, Sniper: Reloaded, S.W.A.T.: Firefight and The Hit List starring Cuba Gooding Jr.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Faster is presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. The video transfer as directed by George Tillman Jr. has a certain oversaturation style going so you’re definitely going to have some color bleeding over at times, but this is by design. The detail level though is pretty good with a discernable amount of grain and noise that isn’t overabundant and adds to the cinematic feel.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
As you can imagine, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track gets a good workout as there’s plenty of gunfire and action sequences that shows off the track’s depth while balanced out by some of quieter and more dialogue driven scenes which there are plenty. The center channel gets mostly used for the dialogue while the front and rear channels showcase the audio effects. The only drawback I’d say is the LFE channel didn’t seem overly active, but it does get triggered every once in a while.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, Faster is your standard revenge flick offering little new to the formula yet still succeeds thanks in part to a surprisingly good performance by Dwayne Johnson who is in his element while Billy Bob Thornton gives is usual off-kilter performance we all know and love. The Blu-ray meanwhile is at least half decent with good audio and video transfers with an OK selection of features which are good for one viewing.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.