Monday, February 10, 2014


I have seen a lot of Rock movies over his post-wrestling career, and while I may tongue-in-cheek enjoy a lot of them out of fondness for his Brahma Bull persona that electrified sports entertainment, there are only two I classify as legitimately good films. One is for the awesome remake of Walking Tall that he graced, and the other for the 2010 action flick, Faster (trailer). I recall catching this in the theater and going in thinking this would be a return to the paint by numbers action flicks that dominated Rock's early Hollywood career like Rundown, Scorpion King and Doom, but was surprised with a film that to me at least stands out from your standard popcorn action movie.

Rock leads this film as a character that is only credited as "Driver." The film opens with him finishing his term in prison after going there when someone exposed him for being in a robbery and murdered his brother right in front of him. Guess what, no really guess, now he is out to seek vengeance on the people that betrayed him. In his way is a "Cop" (Billy Bob Thornton) leading an investigation that is on his tail every step of the way, and a "Hitman" (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) hired to take Driver out before he finishes the job.

There are three ways I still vividly recall how Faster popped out at me and makes it rise above the typical action flick:

3) Man of few words, around 200 Actually - After watching this the first time over three years ago, I remember coming out of Faster thinking "wow, Rock rarely speaks in this movie, I bet he says less than 100 words of dialogue from start to finish." I was only a little off, I was keeping track throughout the film on this second viewing, as Rock only speaks in sprinkled, gruff one liners for a majority of the picture, but towards the end he has a couple brief exchanges where he is speaking in a normal tone for a few lines which threw me off count, but I swear he has no more than 200 words of dialogue. Trust me, his presence more than makes up for it because, c'mon it is The Rock and the man is pretty damn good at conveying a badass presence whether you like it or not.

2) Shades of Gray - All three main characters, Driver, Hitman and Cop are not your cookie cutter heroes and villains and all have their own unique backgrounds on how they got to be where they are today. All three have their own fascinating demons they are fighting throughout the film, such as Cop trying to cope with a nasty drug habit and trying to save his family and Driver trying to set new bars for himself to achieve while trying to keep it together in the middle of a job on a call with his psychiatrist. Just watching all three characters develop throughout the film had me rooting for all three in their own personal plights.

3) Spectacular Cinematography - There is something about the way Faster is shot that gives it its own identity. There is a lot of film glare and intense lighting throughout, which is usually Michael Bay's calling card, but here director George Tillman makes the effect his own and somehow makes it shine in giving Faster a real gritty feel.

These three elements combine to make me absolutely love Faster. Without a shadow of a doubt this would make my Top 10 Films of 2010 had I been doing such columns back then. I am always usually a little bashful when discussing Rock movies with friends and coworkers because I am use to most people dismissing his films, but talking to several people over the years I am surprised that they all liked the movie too and I have yet to meet someone who has detested it.

I am always a sucker for DVD extra features, and I will try and give a quick recap on if they are worth seeing or not here in these blogs. For the BluRay of Faster, it has two exclusive behind-the-scenes features, with one highlighting the cast and the other covering the many car stunts throughout the film. Both features are not too long and are quick, easy watches which I thought were worth checking out because they provide some decent insight and are not your average puff piece that dominate a lot of DVD extras. If you only need to check out one extra feature however, make sure to check out the alternate ending, especially with the director's intro to help set it up. I have seen quite a few alternate endings which are not all that alternate, and just have a minor twist on the final product, but the alternate ending in Faster is a much more extended look that heavily involves all the main players in a scene we did not get at the theater at all.

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