Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Maggie Grace, Tom Berenger, Mike Epps, Sid S. Liufau, Xander Berkeley, Moon Bloodgood, Aedin Mincks, John Cirigliano, Lester Speight, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Written by: Tony Gayton, Joe Gayton
Directed by: George Tillman Jr.
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, some drug use and language
Running Time: 98
Date: 11/24/2010

Faster (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

A Rock Can Cry

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by George Tillman Jr. (Men of Honor, Notorious), Faster may look like another brain-dead action picture, but it's surprisingly thoughtful and emotionally effective. There are no clear good guys and bad guys. The screenplay paints the main characters -- an ex-con bent on revenge, a drug-addled cop, and a slick, successful hitman -- in intriguing shades of gray. Each gets an interesting and affecting history that fleshes him out. Only Carla Gugino is shorted in the character department, but she makes up for it in attitude.

A man known only as "Driver" (Dwayne Johnson) is released from prison and immediately embarks upon a revenge plan: he wishes to kill everyone responsible for the death of his brother after a botched bank job ten years earlier. His first few targets are dispatched quickly and easily, but he begins to doubt himself when he begins to understand how his intended victims have redeemed themselves. Meanwhile, a drug-addicted cop (Billy Bob Thornton), a homicide detective (Carla Gugino) and a slick, good-looking hitman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) are all after "Driver." Who will survive when these various characters inevitably collide?

It follows that the performances are very strong, with Dwayne Johnson getting by on sheer, wounded presence and very little dialogue. Over the course of the story, the movie begins to wrestle with fascinating themes of forgiveness, family, and even spirituality. Only the last few minutes fall a little short, mainly because of an obvious effort to provide a satisfying Hollywood ending. Until then, it's very, very good. You'll believe a "Rock" can cry.

Sony's Blu-Ray comes with trailers, an alternate ending, deleted scenes, featurettes, and animatics.

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