Faster (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
February 16, 2011 by Dennis Amith
Dwayne Johnson makes his return to action films with “Faster”. Violent, gritty and high on adrenaline, if you are looking for a Dwayne Johnson, kick-ass popcorn action flick, “Faster” is definitely for you!
Images courtesy of © 2010 CBS Films Inc. and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Inc. All Rights Reserved.
FILM RELEASE DATE: 2010
DURATION: 98 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
COMPANY: CBS Films/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (Strong Violence, Some Drug Use and Language)
RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2011
Directed by George Tillman Jr.
Written by Tony Gayton, Joe Gayton
Produced by Tony Gayton, Liz Glotzer, Martin Shafer, Robert Teitel
Executive Produced by Joe Gayton, Dara Weintraub
Music by Clint Mansell
Cinematography by Michael Grady
Edited by Dirk Westervelt
Casting by Sarah Finn
Production Design by David Lazan
Art Direction by Andrew Murdock
Set Decoration by Jan Pascale
Costume Design by Salvador Perez Jr.
Dwayne Johnson as Driver
Mauricio Lopez as Prison Guard
Jim Gaines as Inmate
Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Killer
Tom Berenger as Warden
Jan Hoag as Receptionist
Courtney Gains as Telemarketer
Adewale Akinnuoye–Agbaje as the Evangelist
Billy Bob Thornton as Cop
Moon Bloodgood as Marina
Aedin Mincks as Tommy
Michael Irb as Vaquero
Josh Clark as Uniform
Carla Gugino as Cicero
Mike Epps as Roy Grone
Maggie Grace as Lily
Sidney S. Liufau as Kenny
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 heals are two men who will do anything to stop him – a veteran cop (Billy Bob Thornton) and a hitman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who finds his match in this worthy opponent. Now, the hunter is also the hunted.
In 2011, Dwayne Johnson (“The Scorpion King”, “The Other Guys”, “Race to Witch Mountain”) made his action film comeback with “Faster” directed by George Tillman Jr. (“Barbershop” films) and written by Tony and Joe Gayton (“Bulletproof”, “Uncommon Valor”, “Sweet Jane”).
Starring alongside Johnson are Billy Bob Thornton (“Sling Blade”, “Armageddon”, “Monster’s Ball”), Carla Gugino (“Watchmen”, “Sin City”, “Night at the Museum”), Moon Bloodgood (“Terminator Salvation”, “Eight Below”, “Pathfinder”), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (“Going the Distance”), Maggie Grace (“Lost”, “Taken”, “Knight and Day”), Tom Berenger (“Platoon”, “Inception”, “Training Day”), Jennifer Carpenter (“Dexter”, “Quarantine”) and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (“Lost”, “G.I. Joe”, “The Bourne Identity”).
“Faster” is an action film that focuses on the storyline of four characters. The primary character and storyline revolves around driver (played by Dwayne Johnson) and other multiple storylines featuring the cop (played by Billy Bob Thornton), the detective (played by Carla Gugino) and the killer played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen).
The film begins with Driver (played by Dwayne Johnson) in prison. Having spent ten years in prison, he is released by the warden (played by Tom Berenger) in hopes that when released, he will be a better person.
The first thing that Driver does, when he gets out of prison is to go to a junkyard where a car, a gun and a sheet with a list of names and addresses. Driver then heads to an office full of workers, spots a guy and shoots him in the head with a camera right on him.
Investigating the case are Detective Cicero (played by Carla Gugino) and Cop (played by Billy Bob Thornton). Cop has ten more days until retirement but he’s also addicted to drugs, meanwhile Cicero is not so happy that she has to share this case with Cop but both must work together. Cop also has to deal with his wife Marina (played by Moon Bloodgood), who he is having marriage problems with and has a difficult time of not being there for his son Tommy (played by Aedin Mincks).
We are introduced to the Killer (played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who is a man who thrives on competition and when he’s beaten it, he moves on to different things. He is a man who has accumulated wealth but since he was successful in that endeavor, he moved on to become a killer. He is deeply in love with Lily (who is as great in shooting firearms as Killer). Killer has received a new job, to eliminate Driver and also the same men that is on Driver’s list.
Meanwhile, we learn through a video of why Driver was sent to prison and why he has a scar on his face. Driver was the driver of the getaway car for his brother and his friends that stole some money. When they retreated to a safehouse, another group had come in and shot them, while tying both Driver and his brother in a chair in hopes that they will reveal where the stolen money was hidden. Driver had a chance to see the five people from the other group and watch as one of them slit his brother’s neck after he had revealed the location of the money. Driver was then shot in the head (the bullet exited from his cheek) by someone and was dead for a little while until he was revived and his shattered skull was repaired with a metal plate. Someone from the group recorded the whole murder and the video is now being viewed by the Detective and Cop.
Meanwhile, Driver goes for the second person on his list… An older man who looks harmless. While the older man has a teenager helping him out by carrying his groceries, he puts a drug in her drink which knocks her out. The older man is revealed to be the man who videotaped the whole incident of what took place that day when Driver was shot and his brother was killed. As Driver goes to the apartment complex where the old man is staying, right outside the complex is Killer. Killer has decided that after he eliminates Driver, he wants to marry Lily and have a family with her and end his business of killing people.
This leads to a cat and mouse game as Driver is determined to kill everyone on that list, people who were involved in killing his brother and his friends and shooting him. While, Killer goes after the same people, working for a mysterious client and determined in killing Driver, so he can get on with his life and get married. Meanwhile, hoping to stop both men are Detective Cicero and Cop.
“Faster” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1). The film looks absolutely gorgeous in HD! Plenty of details can be seen throughout this film, from the detail and textures of the skin pores of every character during closeups, facial hair on the guys, detail on the guns, detail on surroundings, what you would expect from a recent film, “Faster” looks awesome! There is detail from the sweat and blood all over Driver, the detail of the firearms, the vehicles, you name it, the detail is what comes through in this Blu-ray release.
Outdoor scenes are colorful and vibrant, blacks are nice and deep, I saw no signs of any dust particles, artifacting, banding, DNR, edge enhancement or aliasing whatsoever.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Faster” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and the lossless soundtrack is also awesome! Driver’s luger packs a punch and when he and Killer are exchanging fire, audio was well utilized through the surround channels and definitely bringing an immersive soundtrack to the viewer. And this happens quite a bit throughout the film as there is quite a bit of gunfire, cars speeding up and burning rubber and hearing the tires shriek, automobile crashes and hearing the metal crunching, bullets ricocheting off metal.
Overall, a pretty good use of surround and LFE. Granted, it’s not as active as “Quantum of Solace” but it’s still features a solid lossless soundtrack and fans of this film should enjoy hearing it in lossless.
Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and Spanish.
“Faster” comes with the following special features (presented in high definition, English stereo and optional English subtitles):
- PS3 Theme – If you have a PS3 theme, you can get a grayish theme with Dwayne Johnson holding his gun.
- movieIQ®+sync – If you’re Blu-ray is connected to the Internet, you can pull up info. on the film realtime.
- Alternate Ending with Director’s Introduction – (12:42) The original ending to “Faster” that didn’t do well during the test screening. Some may like this ending more than the final cut, I did like it…but I enjoyed the final cut ending more. There is a different outcome to the ending of the film. Featuring an optional introduction by director George Tillman Jr.
- Deleted Scenes with Director’s Introductions – (7:54) Featuring five deleted scenes with optional introductions by director George Tillman Jr.
- Criminals & Cops: The Cast of Faster – (12:12) Featuring an interview with director George Tillman Jr. and the cast of “Faster”.
- Weapons and Wheels: The Guns, Cars and Stunts of Faster – (11:54) A featurette featuring the weapons, cars and stunts used on “Faster”.
- Animatics – (12:22) Featuring the storyboard and pre-rendered CG storyboards for the bank heist, old man, hospital and joust scenes.
The Rock has come back to action films!
And after trying different genres, there is no doubt that Dwayne Johnson doing action films fits perfectly for him. You want to see Johnson in films where he is kicking butt and “Walking Tall” was a perfect example of where Johnson shines as an action film star. It’s what many people have seen him do as “The Rock” on WWE and so, his return to action films in “Faster” was expected and if there is one thing that can be positively said about this film is that the Brahma Bull brings it!
But unlike his previous films, Johnson’s character “Driver” is not a good guy. He’s a criminal, he’s a murderer and while you are sympathetic for his cause, I feel that the character is one that will easily turn people off and those who will want to see Dwayne Johnson do what he does best, playing a character who wants to kick some ass!
For the most part, this action film is an entertaining popcorn action flick that is quite watchable, adrenal and enjoyable but if you try to extract what is deep about satisfying about the movie, that is where “Faster” comes up short.
One major positive about the film is its cast. You have an all-star cast and while most of them don’t show up for all that long, the storyline’s focus on four different characters is quite interesting. Outside of Johnson’s “Driver”, Billy Bob Thornton can always pull off the Cop-like character. Granted, he’s not a likable cop, as his first initial shot shows him to be a drug addict, but Billy Bob knows how to play these type of character roles. Carla Gugino as Detective Cicero was not well utilized in my opinion and possibly the characters that you do find pretty cool and feel they should have their own movie is Oliver Jackson-Cohen’s “Killer” and Maggie Grace’s “Lily”.
And that for me lies the problem. We enjoy the characters too much.
In some ways, I felt we shouldn’t. Sympathetic, I understand but the Driver was fine, playing the man carrying out his revenge. The Killer should have been some deranged, psycho lunatic. The Cop could stay the way he was and for Cicero, a more definitive position of a woman in power, rather one who feels she is getting shortchanged by the Cop.
Sure, the concept would fit into the banality of revenge action films but it works. Instead, we are left with plot holes that make no sense. Why was the ordeal videotaped? Why do the police have that videotape?
Also, I do believe that there is one crucial deleted scene that should have been included in the film and it deals with the Cop and the character of Marina. I know that George Tillman Jr. didn’t want to cut it but he did and I felt it was a mistake. I also feel the “Kill Bill”-esque type of storyline and killing one’s parent and then warning their child about if they want to come at him for revenge was just too contrived.
But in the end, it all comes down to is the film’s writing and execution. The writers made these characters too likable and while the film is focused on the driver, they made the audience supporting the suave Killer and his girlfriend Lily even more (which prompted the change of the original ending of the storyline).
I will say that George Tillman Jr. does take a big step forward from his “Barbershop” film years by directing this action film. “Faster” is a visually cool looking film and on Blu-ray, the picture quality and audio quality is great! The special features were also good but it would have helped to have a director’s commentary and giving Tillman a chance to reflect on certain scenes and if he would have done anything different.
With that being said, I still enjoyed “Faster” as a popcorn action flick that features a good number of stars in the film. On Blu-ray, I felt that the picture quality and lossless audio soundtrack definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the film.
But if you enjoy Dwayne Johnson action films and you want to see him in a more violent film and see him ultimately kick some ass, I have no doubt that “Faster” is a film that you will definitely enjoy.
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