Monday, April 11, 2011

Ten Statements About....FASTER (2010)

Now this...this is the stuff....
1) Welcome back to where you belong, Dwayne Johnson. You were sorely, sorely missed.

2) The influence of a number of things is very evident in the script by Tony and Joe Gayton--I detected whiffs of Donald Westlake, Brian Garfield and a whole slew of 70's action revenge flicks. Hell, the only name we know Johnson's character by is Driver, which I swear is a reference to the Ryan O'Neill vehicle The Driver, because we don't even know if this is Johnson's name or his role in the bank job that caused his prison stay.

3) At first, I thought the smallish role by Better In The Dark Hottie Hall of Fame Inductee Moon Bloodgood was gratuitous, and her suicide attempt nonsensical...but once the connection between two of the characters becomes revealed, it's obvious that the Gaytons intended this as a significant clue.

4) Similarly, another clue is laid right out there in the very beginning as to what is really going on with the three leads, but the acting on one of those leads obscures the fact that he's not what he pretends to be.

5) If there's one biiiiig problem with Tillman Jr's direction is that sometimes it's too stylish for its own good, like when he inserts a sideways angle (it's so vertical it's Dutchness is phony) in the middle of one of the major suspense pieces.

6) I thoroughly respect how nowhere are we asked to consider Driver a hero. We are asked to show sympathy for him, but never condone his actions (although I really felt the closing song touting 'there's no room for a good guy,' was laying it on a little thick). Hell, even when he does positive things, like saving a young girl from the sleazy second man on his list or sparing another man who attributes his participation in Driver's Brother's murder to his finding god and becoming a pious man, it's never glorified.

6) It's interesting how the people who murdered Driver's brother start out as cookie cutter stereotypes--we know nothing about the first one--but they gain more depth the lower down the list we get...until, when we hit the person who should be on the list, but isn't, he's the most well-defined of all.

7) I was surprised at how invested I was in Killer, the hired gun who's assigned the task of killing Driver. Even though he's given enough quirks to count for overkill, Oliver Jackson-Cohen's performance sells me on the fact that this could actually be a real person. But then, seeing him interact with his fiance' wife, Maggie Grace's Lilly, helps a lot. In one sequence, they almost make me wish the film was about them.

Carla Gugino and...I don't know...just...Carla Gugino
8) Carla Gugino....I just wanted to mention Carla Gugino, because she is her usual volcanic self.

I like Carla Gugino.

Carla Gugino.

9) This is a hard R film...and yet, it dances around the proclivities of the second target on Driver's list, referred to in the credit as The Old Man. We see him feign weakness to lure a teen girl into his apartment, see him dose her with a paralytic...and yet the script hints at, but never explicitly says that he's either a serial killer, a serial rapist or an amateur snuff film producer. Sometimes, it's just better to out and out say what you want to say.

10) It's interesting how, even though there is a definite fetishization of cars in this film, the only real chase scene happens in flashback toward the end of the first act--a successful way of having your cake and eating it, too.

In short--there are loads of positives, and yet I'm not sure it adds up to a great picture. Maybe if the film was a bit more streamlined, it might have been more effective and well-paced.

It's fascinating, incidentally, how the trailers before this film included one for the Jason Stratham/Ben Foster remake of The Mechanic, which seems to have less kinship with the original Charles Bronson starrer than this film did, and Drive Angry, which seems to be the Bizarro World version of this film, with the back-from-Hell Nicholas Cage driving a wicked car to destroy the cult that killed his daughter. There was also a trailer for The Rite, which soooo wants to be The Exorcist it isn't funny, and The Eagle, which seems to be telling the same story as Centurion....only, you know, with Channing Tatum and now wacky gore.

Oh...and a trailer for Season of The Witch, a ludicrous looking period-set Nicholas Cage horror flick that asks us to buy Nicholas Cage as a medieval knight transporting a witch to her trail, and has been 'coming soon' for over a year.

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