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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
George Tillman Jr.
Cast:
Dwayne Johnson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Tom Berenger, Jan Hoag, Courtney Gains, Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Irby
Writing Credits:
Tony Gayton, Joe Gayton

Tagline:
Slow Justice is No Justice.

Synopsis:
An ex-con sets out to avenge his brother's death after they were double-crossed during a heist years ago. During his campaign, however, he's tracked by a veteran cop and an egocentric hit man.

Box Office:
Budget
$24 million.
Opening Weekend
$8.523 million on 2454 screens.
Domestic Gross
$23.225 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $34.95
Release Date: 3/1/2011

Bonus:
• Alternate Ending and Deleted Scenes
• “Criminals and Cops: The Cast of Faster” Featurette
• “Weapons and Wheels: The Guns, Cars and Stunts of Faster” Featurette
• Animatics
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Faster [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 27, 2011)

Will Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson ever develop into an “A”-list Hollywood actor? Probably not. He’s been a leading man for nearly a decade but has yet to star in a single genuine hit. Two Johnson-starring efforts reached the $90 million mark – 2002’s Scorpion King and 2007’s Game Plan - but those are by far his most successful efforts. Most of his flicks have disappointed or outright tanked.

Into the last category, we find 2010’s Faster. Despite a prime circa Thanksgiving release date, the movie went nowhere at the box office. It ended up with a poor $23 million in the US, so even with a discount budget of $24 million, it bombed.

After a decade in prison, Driver (Johnson) gains his release. Through his entire stay, only one thought consumed him: revenge for the death of his brother; he died when someone screwed them over during a robbery gone wrong.

Once he leaves prison, Driver immediately goes after his mission of vengeance. This leads him on a series of bloody excursions and sends a variety of folks on his tail, as both cops (Billy Bob Thornton and Carla Gugino) and assassins (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) pursue the single-minded ex-con.

When Johnson launched his acting career, I must admit I hoped he’d flop; I didn’t think much of the whole pro wrestling scene, so I didn’t expect him to be anything more than an obnoxious lunkhead. To my pleasant surprise, Johnson displayed much more talent and personality than expected. Once he got past brain-dead he-man roles such as in Scorpion King, we saw a bright personality and comedic flair.

Perhaps he needs to pursue lighter fare more often, as after Scorpion King - which was preordained to do decently as part of the highly successful Mummy franchise – his non-action efforts have done the best. When Johnson goes down a pure action route – such as here or in Doom - audiences stay away in droves. Given Johnson’s roots as a wrestling star, it seems strange that his action flicks do so poorly, though in the case of Faster, I can’t say that viewers missed anything.

Not that Faster is a total loss or a genuinely bad film. As a basic revenge tale, it has its moments, especially during the first act or so. The movie starts fast and brutal, as it depicts a true man on a mission. We see Driver as a single-minded killer with nearly superhuman revolve, and his backstory unfolds in a manner that keeps us intrigued.

For a while, at least, but then Faster forgets its purpose and gets bogged down in a surprising amount of touchy-feely character moments. When these stick with the relationship between Driver and his brother, they’re fine, but then they expand into other characters, and that decision leads to a massive “who the frack cares?” from the viewer.

This choice seems especially odd given the movie’s apparent preference to treat its main roles as archetypes. “Driver” isn’t the character’s name; it describes his part in the heist that led to his brother’s demise. Two other prominent roles are simply called “Cop” and “Killer”.

When a script goes that way, it tells me the filmmakers don’t want to even vaguely consider character background and development. Had Faster stayed with the roles in such a basic manner, it would’ve worked better. That does seem counterintuitive, as usually movies come with too little development, not too much.

However, in this case, the added info about backstory and relationships just makes the movie drag. These moments detract from the meat of the film and turn it flabby. We don’t go to see films like this for three-dimensional characters; we just want big, booming action.

Which we occasionally get, and when that happens, Faster works pretty well. I prefer Johnson as a lighter actor; for all his tough guy exterior, he’s a deft comedic talent, and I think he fares best in those parts. Nonetheless, he’s more than acceptable here, so I think he could potentially prosper in action flicks if he picked better ones.

Faster just isn’t a particularly well-developed effort. When it sticks with brutal action, it boasts some bite, but it stretches itself too thin with ineffective thematic and character moments. Those just slow it down and make it spin its wheels.


The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus C-

Faster appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The movie came with a solid transfer.

Sharpness always worked fine. The movie showed good clarity and definition from start to finish, with very little softness on display. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and edge haloes remained absent. I also noticed no source flaws here, as the movie was always clean and clear.

Colors played a minor role. The movie opted for a decidedly bleached-out, desaturated look that left very few real hues to be seen. Within its stylistic constraints, the tones seemed fine. Blacks were tight and dense, and I thought shadows showed nice clarity and definition. The Blu-ray portrayed the film in an accurate manner.

Faster also came with a strong DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Given its action orientation, I expected a broad, engaging mix, and that’s what I got. In the effects domain, gunfire and driving scenes added the most zip; those used the five channels in a lively, engrossing manner. Other effects added flair as well, and music showed good stereo imaging. The surrounds became full partners through much of the flick and contributed to the movie’s impact.

Audio quality always remained positive. Effects were the biggest factor, and they seemed excellent. Those elements demonstrated good clarity and punch, with some deep, rich bass. Music was smooth and clear, while speech appeared natural and concise. No problems emerged during this impressive mix.

Only a few extras appear here. We get an Alternate Ending (11:12) and five Deleted Scenes (7:54). Those include “Cop and Marina Outside Safe House”, “Killer Takes a Picture”, “Lily Helps Killer”, “Cop Takes Care of Marina” and “Marina and Lily”. The “Ending” gives us a different finish for the Killer; it’s a good sight more action-packed than the current conclusion, and it’s also darker. I think I prefer it than the existing ending.

As for the deleted scenes, they’re less interesting. They mostly add more character embellishments to a movie already too packed with those moments. Those elements make the film drag too much as it stands, so I’m glad these didn’t make the final cut.

We can watch the segments with or without optional introductions from director George Tillman, Jr. He tells us a bit about the sequences and lets us know why they got the boot. Tillman proves to be informative and engaging;

We also find two featurettes. These include Criminals and Cops: The Cast of Faster (12:12) and Weapons and Wheels: The Guns, Cars and Stunts of Faster (11:54). Across these, we hear from Tillman, screenwriters Tony and Joe Gayton, technical advisor Chic Daniel, prop master Will Blount, stunt coordinator Darren Prescott, and actors Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Maggie Grace, Carla Gugino, and Moon Bloodgood.

The programs look at cast, characters and performances as well as aspects of the various action elements. “Cast” throws in some minor character insights, but it tends to be fluffy and without much real substance. “Wheels” works a bit better, though, as it delivers decent details about the weapons and action.

Under Animatics, we get work for four scenes. In total, these last 12 minutes, 22 seconds; though they mostly show rough animation, they throw in some CG work as well. They’re a fun way to check out the prep work for the film.

The disc opens with ads for Quarantine 2: Terminal, Green Hornet, Sniper: Reloaded, The Hit List and SWAT: Firefight. These also appear under Previews. No trailer for Faster shows up here.

Maybe some day Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will score a hit with an action flick, but Faster flopped. It’s not a terrible movie, and it has some good moments, but it tends to be so interested in superfluous material that it loses sight of its strengths. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture and audio along with a few minor supplements. This ends up as a pretty positive release for an inconsistent movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.05 Stars Number of Votes: 20
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