Faster (2010, directed by George Tilllman, Jr.)


A man known as the Driver (played by Dwayne Johnson) is released from prison, having served time for taking part in a bank robbery.  As soon as he gets his freedom, the Driver is jumping in a fast car, driving across Nevada and California, and killing everyone who he believes set him up and murdered his half-brother.  The Driver has even made out list of the people on whom he needs to get revenge.  Among those on the Driver’s list are a nightclub bouncer, a snuff film producer, an traveling evangelist, and one name that the Driver has not bothered to write down.

As the Driver conducts his killing spree, he is pursued by two other men who each have their own reason for wanting to find him.  The Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) is close to retirement and has a heroin addiction.  The Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is a hit man who views murder as a personal challenge and who plans to marry his girlfriend (Maggie Grace) as soon as he takes care of the Driver.

Today, we take Dwayne Johnson’s superstardom for granted so it’s interesting to go back and watch a movie like Faster, which was made when Johnson was still best known as a wrestler and there were still doubts about whether or not he had the screen presence to carry an entire film on his own.  Though Johnson’s character is the main character and it’s his single-minded quest for revenge that propels the plot, the film spends as much time with the Cop and the Killer as it does with the Driver.  The Driver doesn’t get much dialogue.  Instead, the majority of the Driver’s scenes emphasize Johnson’s physical presence, casting him as the unstoppable hand of fate.  Johnson doesn’t really get to show what he can do as an actor until nearly halfway through the film, when the Driver has an emotional meeting with his mother.  Johnson acquits himself well in the scene but it’s still obvious that the film was made before people realized that Dwayne Johnson really could act.

Seen today, Faster is a relentless and exciting B-movie.  It’s fast-paced and, even if it doesn’t give Johnson a chance to say much, it’s smart enough to surround him with memorable character actors like Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Berenger, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Carla Gugino.  Even without a lot of dialogue, Dwayne Johnson is such an imposing figure and has so much screen presence that he dominates the film in a way that it’s hard to believe that there were ever any doubts about whether or not he could be a film star.  Faster holds up well, as both an action movie and star-making vehicle for Dwayne Johnson.

Falling Skies (Official Trailer)


It looks like while vampires and zombies may be battling it out as the “monster of the moment” the past couple of years there’s an oldie quietly sneaking up behind them to try and take up the general public’s attention.

The first shot was a little film from South Africa called District 9. I think more than a few people saw that little film. Then last year we had a film from two special-effects brothers called Skyline. That particular shot wasn’t as good as the previous title mentioned. In fact, it was godawful though not without it’s perverse entertainment value one gets from watching a very awful film that still manages to entertain (though probably not in the way it’s creators intended to).

In less than a couple of months a film called Battle: Los Angeles will hit the bigscreen and will hopefully be a tad better than the similar plotted Skyline. This one has another South African directing it so that may be a good thing.

Coming this June is a tv series that also follows a similar theme of “alien invasion” with the DreamWorks Television series Falling Skies from producer Steven Spielberg and screeenwriter Robert Rodat. The show will premiere on TNT and stars Noah Wylie, Moon Bloodgood, Will Patton and Dale Dye. From what brief snippets of information that has been released about it the show looks to be similar in tone to Spielberg’s own War of the Worlds where it’s about the human armed resistance trying to retake their cities and the planet back from the alien invaders.

It definitely seems to be a very ambitious show and one that hopefully has a much leaner and efficient take on the alien invasion story than the current remake of V: The Series on ABC. That one had many hoping for a sci-fi to make a great return to network tv and instead we got aliens meets True Blood.

Here’s to hoping Falling Skies doesn’t have aliens wanting to have sex with humans and instead aliens just wanting to kill and/or eat humans instead. I think that would make for a much better show.