Jul 312011
 

A movie where the muscle cars roar, the bullets fly, and no character needs a name; because the only thing that matters is the main character’s quest for vengeance, and the bloody means with which he exacts it; Faster is a throwaback to the action films of yester-yore, and delivers exactly what the trailers, and plot summaries suggested it would.

Dwayne Johnson (Fast Five) stars as Driver; a man fresh out of the joint (after doing a ten-year stretch) who’s simply itching to kill the men who not only caused him to become incarcerated, but who brutally murdered his brother; and begins his mission mere hours after being released on parole, with a swift bullet-to-the-head of his first victim, in a crowded office, in full view of the CCTV; because as long as he gets the job done, he simply doesn’t care.

Add into the mix a Cop (Billy Bob Thornton, Armageddon) who trying to track him down, and a Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Going the Distance) who’s been hired by the mysterious last man at the murder, and you’ve got a little death triangle going on; as Driver attempts to kill everyone who was involved with his brother’s death, Killer wants to kill Driver, and Cop wants to get to Driver before he kills anyone else.

There’s not much else to the plot of Faster; a film which basically ignores character names because they’re not as important as the action; and it’s with the action that this film succeeds, as it’s often quick brutal, and both exciting and tense to watch, as is Dwayne Johnson; who carries the entire film thanks to his extremely strong screen presence, and the effective manner with which he pulls off the strong-but-silent type of anti-hero he’s depicting here; a man with no qualms about killing (yet he still seems to have a decent set of morals), who’s it’s just about impossible not to root for.

Rounding out the cast, Billy Bob Thornton is as dislikable as ever, yet surprisingly strong and rounded, as Cop; a drug addled policeman determined to track Driver down as soon as possible; while Killer could have been played by anyone, and wasn’t handled especially well by Jackson-Cohen, and other than them there’s little to mention other than minor characters played by Carla Gugino (Watchmen); Cop’s hard-nosed, straight-laced, partner; and Maggie Grace (Taken); Killer’s girlfriend, who’s obviously just included so Faster can boast the inclusion of a hot girl with a gun; and some very brief appearances by Tom Berenger (Platoon), Xander Berkeley (Terminator 2), and Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter).

Men of Honour’s George Tillman Jr. helmed the movie, and directed it with a suitable level of style and tension that may not be too original, yet adequately gets the job done, and conveys just the level of tension and hard-hitting action he craved, making Faster an extremely easy to watch actioner that’s still fairly generic, yet an enjoyable watch; as long as you don’t expect too much out of it.

Thin on plot, big on The Rock, guns, muscle cars, and action, Faster does exactly what it claimed to do and gives film fans an action movie they can sit back and enjoy, without having to worry about complicated sub-plots, or anything except waiting for Dwayne Johnson to catch up to his next victim; sure the twist could be seen a mile off, and the music isn’t always entirely fitting, but The Rock has returned to action movies and is playing a great character, who doesn’t think twice about shooting a telemarketer in the face; and really, what more do you want?

Picture:

Yet while the film itself may not be to everyone’s taste, it’s difficult to argue with the quality of Faster’s video presentation; as it features amazing detail, stunning textures, brilliant black,s an appropriate level of grain, and well balanced fleshtones that perfectly suit the film tone and warm contrast, and ensures that any fan of the film will not be disappointed.

Audio:

Similarly the Dolby Digital 5.1 track awarded to the Faster DVD release is likely to impress any action fan, as it contains constantly active and loud surround channels from the outset, solid directional effects, weighty and impactful bass (which makes gunshots land with a real bang), and every sort of over-exaggerated sound that action fans tend to appreciate, and find thoroughly engrossing.

Extras:

Less impressive is the thin selection of special features, which consist of (much less than the Blu-ray release) a generic Blu-ray trailer, an alternate ending with optional director’s intro; that wasn’t well received in early screenings, but provides a little more action, and a showdown between Driver and Killer, that the more bullet-craving fans may enjoy; and a handful of deleted scenes with optional director’s intros; that may interest the odd fan, but are all pretty skippable in the end.

The Bottom Line:

With Faster you get exactly the film that was advertised, and nothing more; you should have able to tell from the trailers that this was a movie with little plot, that simply revolved around a big guy going after the people who wronged him, and shooting them in the head; something The Rock (or Dwayne Johnson as he now prefers to be called) does extremely well; and it’s his presence and perfect suitability to the action genre that carry this film, and make it an action movie that fans of the genre should enjoy.

Faster’s DVD package shouldn’t disappoint either; as while the special features do leave a little something to be desired, their not the most important thing on a release such as this, and come way behind the audio and video quality, which are both top notch.

Faster is a film that really suits home viewing, and although it’s not going to win any awards it should go down well with action fans, marks a welcome return to the action genre for The Rock, and is a movie that will score highly with any fans of similar revenge flicks, or action movies such as Walking Tall.

Matt Wheeldon.