|November 24, 2010|
|George Tillman Jr.|
|Action, Drama, Thriller
Rated R for strong violence, some drug use and language
Here’s what “Faster” had going for it before the actual viewing of the film. The trailer made it look like a make-and-model revenge flick, much along the lines of “The Punisher” with Thomas Jane and John Travolta. The trailer presented the film as a “Fast & Furious” with Dwayne Johnson taking over for Vin Diesel as the big man bad ass. What the film ended up possessing was nothing more than Dwayne Johnson being released from jail and generically working down a list of people to murder with a halfhearted homage to “the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”.
You have got to give Dwayne Johnson credit; at least this was not “Tooth Fairy” or “Game Plan”. Johnson is actually following his “Walking Hard” and “The Rundown” semi-successes, where his professional wrestling look and attitude are put to use. The man looks like a machine and embodies Arnold Swarzenegger from “The Terminator”, but much in the same respects, as soon as he opens his mouth to act, the illusion is broken.
As the film delves into the younger version of Johnson’s character, “Faster” becomes laughable. Trying to pass Johnson off as a young and naïve adolescent was ill-advised and unconvincing. If anything, they should have set the film around Johnson being the older brother and having to watch his younger brother die instead of the vice versa. That holds much more weight than a younger sibling’s redemption.
The attempt at the recreation of the stand-off from “the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” between Johnson, Thornton, and Jackson-Cohen was handled poorly and came off anti-climatic, especially with the “surprising” revelations being visible from an hour prior to the climax. Not just simply the “major” bombshell has been figured out before the end, but even the minor ones.
Billy Bob Thornton appears to be phoning in his part (or lack there of). The motivations behind his character’s actions are generic and tossed together and none of the revelations ever really hold much weight. Oliver Jackson-Cohen makes his action film debut a little too enthusiastically and had this been a different feeling film (say a graphic novel interpretation) the film would have made more sense with his eccentric hitman character. Even with Carla Gugino and Tom Berenger, the film fails to hit as hard as it could have.
The only scene that really made an impact was the lead up and culmination of the preacher portion of the film. Emotions are finally brought into the film at this point and the dialogue becomes well written and delivered. The pacing at this point exploded in a glorious mixture of suspense and turning point. The sermon’s were pertinent and the appearance of sheer fear on the face of the preacher leading to his intended demise on the shores of an oddly placed lake were by far the best acting in the entire film (and that is probably not saying much).
If this film were to get any sort of awards, it would have to be for the sound design team. It is not often that you view a film and are constantly drawn into the remarkable sound design of the film. All the minor sound effects become amplified to the point of appreciation with the ticking of a clock, the sizzling of an engine after running hot, and all the car noises that you could possibly devour. Watch the film, pay close attention to the sound, and try to tell me that this is not the best part of the film.
The action genre is getting to the point where you must enter with the low expectations of simply watching the generic action stars kill villains, blow up cars, and generally kicking ass all over the place, with no recognizable depth of content. “Expendables” and “The A-Team” both completely relied on this logic of remaining mindless action fests. “Faster” is no different. I can not say this is a completely bad thing, as long as you do not expect much walking in, but from now on it will be hard for me to get my hopes up for any anticipated future release action film without starting out immediately with a baseline disappointment at the overall state of the genre.