Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Faster (2010) TH

Flexes like a bodybuilder, stings like a bullet

"Faster" treads fiercely and also gives way to a certain poetic license. Call it a simplistic, unmuddled revenge film that's affected by savage grace. It's reminiscent of iconic westerns about a loner with demons in his closet related to a past traumatic event that's now come full circle.

The look and feel carries a tone from the distinctive tint to some of the unpolished locales and shady characters. The pace is set with jarring, off-center camera angles, to being more of a slow burn with subtle panning to get its message home. This is truly a basic action film that exaggerates as it does inject plausibility. The mechanics help drive this forward, because without 'em there wouldn't have been much to see that already hasn't been done before.

The theme is as simple as a silent type (Dwayne Johnson) fresh outta lockup with strict purpose: to systematically hunt down targets that are revealed in flashbacks. A few hazards are thrown his way, but with his height, bulk and fearlessness there's not much to stop the juggernaut from rolling because he's, you guessed, "faster." He's got an old school vibe: muscle car, six shooter and scars to show his battle wounds. A Batman type (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), that isn't afraid to break the law, gets hot on his trail to stop him with his new school gadgets and playboy looks, as well as the confident detective (Carla Gugino) and her unwanted shady looking new partner (Billy Bob Thornton) with a continual scruff and look of "user" on his face.

For the most part, the characters aren't hardened stone throughout as the filmmakers show evolution from their intended course. One could say they "grew" from the initial outset, while others, like in real life, remain unchanged. Dwayne Johnson's character is a man's man who is talented behind the wheel and when needed for action is unflinching. He purposely expunges nearly all emotion but takes on the role of intimidation with his pulsating neck and commanding biceps of authority.

The movie has testosterone flowing through its veins with point blank executions and car chases. There are layers but nothing that would peel back the onion like a strict drama. This has some artistic, never-used-in-real-life dialogue sprinkled about that feels forced to fit in some areas, like they came from a practiced writer instead of from different people with different personalities. "Faster" is an effective cinematic experience that balances grit and candid entertainment while still pausing to smell the flowers that might have gotten some petrol and blood on their pedals.

Director: George Tillman Jr. (Men of Honor, Notorious)
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino, Maggie Grace, Tom Berenger
Website: IMDB