Saturday, November 27, 2010

Faster (+ previews)

You may find this hard to believe, but an R-rated action/crime movie like Faster has a completely different set of previews attached to it than the PG-rated Disney animated comedy from the night before! So, let's run down what's being sold to action fans, just like for the kids:

Battle: Los Angeles - Fun fact: The guys who made Skyline also worked on this movie about aliens attacking Los Angeles. This one looks to easily be the bigger and better film, apparently with a tight focus on the grunts fighting the aliens as opposed to the leaders.

Cowboys & Aliens - The graphic novel it's "based on" was just okay (with "based on" being a loose term - the comic was created to drum up interest in the property as a film, and then sold at a loss so that it could be called a best-seller), but the trailer is looking like all kinds of fun. There's a ton of behind-the-scenes talent, Jon Favreau is pretty good at this sort of thing, and the cast of Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde is solid.

Speaking of Harrison Ford, one of the saddest things about how rare westerns are today is that Ford never really did them. This is a sci-fi western, and the last time Ford did something even remotely similar was over thirty years ago, in The Frisco Kid, a comedy where he played second fiddle to Gene Wilder. Someone need to cast him in a straight western, soon. Maybe Jon Carpenter - Ford and Carpenter doing a non-hybrid western together would kill two "movies that need to happen before the people involved are too old" birds with one stone.

True Grit - Wow, this looks good. As needless as remaking one of the films most closely associated with John Wayne is, the Coens do great work and Jeff Bridges looks absolutely fantastic in the preview.

Drive Angry - 3D makes some people completely irrational; follow Roger Ebert on Twitter and be amused by how every 3D movie not doing as well as it might have is conclusive evidence that the public has turned away from this gimmick and it's dooooooooooooooomed. And, yes, I do think that there has been some backlash, but what's actually happening seems to be moviegoers getting smarter about which movies they see in 3D and studios starting to make the distinction that certain movies are being made with it in mind. Drive Angry pushes the "Shot In 3D" big-time in the preview, but it looks like a fun movie regardless, with Nicolas Cage tearing into the insane premise (guy breaks out of hell to rescue his granddaughter), William Fitchner as the smooth demon pursuing him, and Amber Heard looking gorgeous. The director had fun with 3D in My Bloody Valentine, which while not really a good movie certainly made use of the technology well.

The Mechanic - Donald Sutherland is going to get knocked off early in this one, isn't he? --sigh-- Jason Statham will probably be worth watching - he generally is - but sometimes it feels like his agent should just throw out any scripts that don't have Guy Ritchie's or Luc Besson's return address (and be careful where Ritchie is concerned).

...And, after that, Faster started. The only thing really worth mentioning about it that's not in the review is that the opening credits indicate that divisions of three of the six major media empires were involved in making this thing: Viacom (CBS Films), Sony (Tri-Star Pictures), and Time Warner (Castle Rock). That's common in the rest of the world, but in Hollywood, does it really take that many investors to make a B-level action movie?


* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 26 November 2010 at Regal Fenway #7 (first-run)

I wonder if Faster had a different name at some point, or evolved into something else from its original conception. With that title, and a character identified mainly as "Driver", you'd think it would be all about the high-speed chase. Instead, it's a terse, methodical movie, a flawed but intriguing opera of revenge.

A former getaway driver (Dwayne Johnson) is just being released from prison after ten years. He's stoically taken everything the other prisoners have dished out. Nobody meets him at the gate, so he starts walking. A car awaits him at a nearby junkyard, and the glove compartment contains a name, an address, and a revolver. Not caring who sees him, the driver puts a bullet in a telemarketer's head, then goes to get a list. A hungover cop (Billy Bob Thornton) a couple weeks away from retirement catches the case, and he and his partner (Carla Gugino) aren't the only ones on the driver's trail - a hit man (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) has been hired to take him out before he reaches the end of the list.

Faster seems like it should have been a race, with the Driver, the Cop, and the Killer speeding from one target to the next, ramming each other off the road and firing guns at each other's speeding cars. There's actually not a whole lot of vehicular action at all, and most of it takes place during a flashback to the heist that originally landed Driver in jail. What we see is fairly impressive stunt driving, and both Driver's '70s Chevelle and Killer's late-model Porsche are fine reflections of their personalities, but those going for non-stop action will be disappointed. There's only one real shootout, which comes early. Most of the kills are efficient.

Full review at EFC.

No comments: