After his release from prison, a driver (Johnson) is reunited with his beloved muscle-car and immediately puts a bullet in a man's head, which is only the beginning of his vengeance after being set up and left for dead. The police (Thornton and Gugino) are on his trail, as is a hot-blooded killer (Jackson-Cohen) who's distracted by his gun-happy girlfriend (Grace). But the driver is moving so fast that he doesn't need to hide. He's also brazenly unswerving in his mission to settle this old score.
From the title sequence featuring Johnson's beefy, tattooed torso, we know exactly what this movie is really about: roaring machismo. We then meet Jackson-Cohen's character in a montage of lean, rippling physical strength. And the film is basically a series of violent encounters involving guns, knives, glowering stares and emotional last-gasps. Not that we're meant to feel anything for these people, although a few actors generate sympathy by injecting soul into their characters.
Shot and edited with pumping testosterone, the film's intensity comes from Johnson's tightly wound performance, as he charges through each scene with breathless focus. Although he tries, Johnson can't suppress his charm, and he also lets us see that his vicious quest has some sort of ethical code behind it. Opposite him, Thornton's sweaty cop and Gugino's no-nonsense detective add some texture, as does Jackson-Cohen's sleekly desperate hitman. And the first-rate cast of one-scene characters adds layers of interest.
Actually, all of the actors inject depth into their roles through their vivid reactions to each other. We can feel the vein-popping tension between these people because of the robust acting, which is a reflection of some strong subtext in the Gaytons' script and Tillman's direction. But the gimmicky plot and thunderous tone continually overwhelm any potential interest we may feel in the characters or situations. At least this seriousness offers a veneer of moral complexity during what's essentially a relentless orgy of violence.
Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 24th November 2010
Box Office USA: $23.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $23.1M
Distributed by: CBS Films
Production compaines: Castle Rock Entertainment, State Street Pictures, CBS Films
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 46 Rotten: 62
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson as Driver, Billy Bob Thornton as Cop, Maggie Grace as Lily, Carla Gugino as Cicero, Tom Berenger as Warden, Jan Hoag as Receptionist, Courtney Gains as Telemarketer, Michael Irby as Vaquero, Josh Clark as Uniform, Michael Blain-Rozgay as TV Anchor, Mike Epps as Roy Grone, Sidney S. Liufau as Kenny, Moon Bloodgood as Marina, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as The Evangelist, Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Killer, Jennifer Carpenter as Woman