Friday 25 March 2011

"Faster" (Metro 25/03/11)

Faster (15) 98 mins **

A peculiar vehicle for ex-wrestler Dwayne Johnson – reduced to taking what look suspiciously like Jason Statham’s leftovers – this revenge thriller sports a few workable, albeit second-hand, ideas that might have sustained a taut, grungy B-movie, but end up rattling around inside a medium-budget studio production aimed at the Saturday night crowd. The opening, at least, has punch: Johnson’s jailbird Driver emerging from prison gates like a rodeo steer and jogging full-pelt into the nearest town to blow a gaping hole in a telemarketeer’s forehead. Thereafter, it’s the theoretically fun, actually rather yawnsome business of The Rock charging into stripclub toilets and operating theatres to do away with the men who offed his brother. On his tail: Billy Bob Thornton’s drug-addled detective.

Much of it has been half-inched from superior, decade-old cult films: Oliver Jackson-Cohen’s assassin-with-issues cribs directly from Grosse Pointe Blank, the knowing use of Kenny Rogers’ “Just Dropped In” from The Big Lebowski. Its own ideas are laughable – a supporting character named Hovis Nixon, anyone? – and plain disorganised: over-qualified performers drift in for a scene or two, while preening Hollyoaks graduate Jackson-Cohen, the Londis Jake Gyllenhaal, eats up vast swathes of screen time. The finale’s just preachy, as Driver arrives at a revivalist’s tent down by the river, and everybody lays their demons to rest. With fewer zeroes on the budget, it might have served as a worthwhile straight-to-DVD discovery. As it is, it’s empty and oddly pretentious: not Crank, just cranky.

Faster opens nationwide today.

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