Sony // 2010 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 18th, 2011
Justice is swift. Vengeance is faster.
The good news? Dwayne Johnson has taken a break from making excruciating kids movies and gotten back into the action genre. The bad news? Faster sort of bites.
Johnson is "Driver," a nameless prisoner recently released from jail after 10 years of stewing in murderous hatred. His targets: the scumbags who killed his brother following a bank robbery that went sideways.
He methodically tracks down each person who was involved in the murder and coldly executes them. The ringleader, worried that he is next in line to get a bullet in the brainpan, dispatches the assassin "Killer," (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) to rub him out. Meanwhile, a broken down cop (Billy Bob Thornton, Mr.Woodcock) takes an interest in the case for unknown reasons.
First off, it's a relief to see Dwayne Johnson not waste his impressive physical stature and on-screen charisma that's custom-built for an action hero role in yet another terrible family film. He should be punching dudes in the face and shooting guns, not playing around with poop.
With Faster, I fear he may have overcompensated. Everything about the film screams "LOOK AT HOW BADASS I AM!!!" He drives an awesome muscle car that is in no way practical for going on a murder spree, but it is awesome! He walks up to dudes in their places of work and shoots them dead! In front of a camera too, though, thankfully, the cops are dolts so he's able to get his murder on unmolested! He gets into a knife fight with a scary guy for some reason even though it was shown earlier he has no problem shooting an unarmed man! He glowers a lot and barely speaks!
Johnson and director George Tillman, Jr. are truly going for it in their attempt to forge a high-performance kick-ass experience -- but it all feels like they're trying a bit too hard and that sands off a significant amount of edge.
Worse, Driver is a tough guy to root for and not just because he doesn't have a real first name or barely says a word. His rampage isn't the noblest pursuit in the world. Sure you can imagine why he'd be torqued off that his brother was offed (look, there's a picture of the two of them together holding a fish!), but the guy was a bank robber and while I understand that robbing banks is one of those soft, acceptable crimes according to Hollywood, the guy is still a criminal. Am I thrilled he was killed by other criminals? No, but you have to know there are risks with the profession.
So Driver gets mad and runs around and kills the criminals and I just can't seem to summon the empathy. I felt more like a half-interested bystander than a viewer swept up in the narrative and character actions. All that hooked me was the promise of new action and violence, neither of which materializes in memorable fashion. Johnson's physical talents are largely wasted, a brief knife fight being the lone hand-to-hand confrontation he gets into.
The Blu-ray is a crack performer; the 2.40:1, MPEG-4 AVC transfer a standout. The color palette tends towards the washed-out, gritty look, desert-like sheen cast over the events, but the colors can still pop and the resolution is high end. Audio pumped out from a standard-issue DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is properly enveloping, mapping the action sound effects nicely to the surrounds. Extras are led by an alternate ending that tacks on an additional eight or so minute of runtime and adds more action but was wisely shelved. Also: deleted scenes; a series of animatics; and two HD featurettes on the cast, weapons, and cars.
A swing and a miss for Dwayne Johnson, but I appreciate his trajectory. The Blu-ray is a technical heavy.
The only thing fast about this movie was its time in the theaters. Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Alternate Ending
* Deleted Scenes