Touted as Dwayne Johnson’s return to the bad ass action hero genre, Faster had a great trailer to help push the film into the public eye and then…nothing. I didn’t even realize the film had even gone to theaters by the time it arrived in a bubble mailer for me to review. I was a bit concerned it became a DTV fair but nope—it landed in theaters in late November and went away without much of a fuss (and sadly it’s budget barely made back). The film itself wasn’t received overwhelming poor or well by critics, but it definitely was a middle of the road film—nothing something that makes the biggest splash during the holiday season.
After 10 years in prison, Driver (Dwayne Johnson) has focused on one thing – hunting down the people responsible for brutally murdering his brother. Now a free man with a terrifying purpose, he sets out to find and kill all those on his list. But on his heels are two men who will do anything to stop him – a veteran cop (Billy Bob Thornton) and a hit man (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who finds his match in this worthy opponent. Now, the hunter is also the hunted.
I love me some stupid action movies and I had hoped for mindless fun out of Faster, but…well, I kind of got that but it was also a movie that really genuinely tried to be much more. The revenge element was basic enough and the story was overly simple, but the way they connected characters and the story together was as well done as it could possibly have been—although some aspects were definitely a bit more forced than others. The key thing to keep in mind is the films run time which is barely over an hour and a half. I say this because there are quite a few things that could have been snipped from the film, but they were such overly large portions of the film that it would’ve sliced the runtime right down the middle.
Take for instance the character of the Killer (played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen). First off I should mention I do enjoy how these characters were really only given nicknames or short titles. “Warden,” “Driver,” “Killer,” “Cop,” etc. Even if their titles were expanded upon in the story it was always whittled down to those basic titles. In Killer’s case he was a super brilliant, hyper trained guy who had lots of money, fast cars, a beautiful girlfriend/wife (played by Maggie Grace in various forms of undress or scantily cladness), and a desire to apparently be an assassin for hire. Now I was fine with him being brought into the story as he was an added action element, but we almost focused too much on him. You get the sense that this film should focus entirely on Dwayne Johnson’s character, but it really doesn’t. It’s kind of a three way split between Driver, Killer, and Cop. Which would be fine if you expected that, but in the end it really is still just about Driver so why is there so much other filler?
The ride the film takes you on is a pretty good one. Though it’s lacking in car chases (only one—boo!) it still is quite an entertaining ride. A few crazy story elements are thrown in but sadly the big twist at the end really kind of unbuckled the film for me. I was riding high on its general steadfastness to not play into ridiculous action film clichés all the while it used every single one of them. Also I didn’t really want the film to go in the direction it did because it would’ve felt disingenuous to the rest of the story. Sadly it took that sharp turn, but at least Driver killed everyone in the end.
Was that a spoiler? Sorry if it was, but it’s really kind of expected. I mean look at the guy—Johnson’s always been ridiculously muscular, but he’s really almost freakishly so in this one. He also doesn’t act much in it—he gives a constipated angry face stare a lot of the time but as far as words go he’s pretty brief. I do love that he’s so intent on killing everyone that he even drives back to kill someone he didn’t properly off before (his solution? Walk into the hospital operating room and just kill the guy on the table. Hot damn!).
Truth be told this film is a lot of fun and if you’re an action film junkie then it’s at least a Recommended outing. There isn’t an excessive amount of violence, language or nudity (actually I don’t think there was any real nudity come to think of it), so in that regard it almost seems tame in comparison to other action flicks out there. But because of all of that and because it tried so hard to break the mold it was made in, I have to really recommend it to those out there who enjoy such films. Even if the last few minutes of it were a run-of-the-mill disappointment, it was at least a more realistic take on revenge films (in that he just went into places and killed people, no big speeches, no nothin’…just good ol’ fashioned murder).
Sony releases Faster to DVD and it arrives in a standard amaray style DVD case without any fancy inserts or anything; the extras are sadly nearly nonexistent on this release, but I’ll get to that in a second. Video for this film looks clean and clear and what you’d expect from a modern production and the DD5.1 audio brings to life the sounds of guns, cars, and…well, guns again I suppose. Plenty of directional play in the speakers as well as some meaty LFE output as well.
Alternate Ending with Director’s Introduction
Deleted Scenes with Director’s Introductions
Yup…sadly that’s all we get. The Blu-ray has a couple extra featurettes from the look of it, so there isn’t any edition out there with a commentary or anything really worthwhile to check out. Having said that this is a fun disc overall just for the film; however because of the nature of this film you should really just check out the Blu-ray if you have the available equipment as the A/V is sure to knock the DVD out of the water.
Overall worth a Rental but nothing more.
Faster is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.