After a few forays into family friendly films ('Race To Witch Mountain', 'Tooth Fairy', etc), the actor formerly known as The Rock is firmly back in bone-crunching territory. In George Tillman Jr's testosterone fest, Dwayne Johnson is not a big cuddly guy now but a mean, moody and muscled guy; so muscled in fact that he recalls that famous description of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a condom stuffed with walnuts.

When we first meet our man Dwayne, he's emerging from jail hell-bent on one thing and one thing only: inflicting the maximum amount of pain on the gang of thugs who betrayed his own criminal mob and murdered his brother in front of him. (That last bit was a big mistake on their part!)

Though 'Faster' will appeal to fans of kick-ass popcorn movies in general and petrolheads (fast, flashy cars are to the fore) in particular, for anyone else, it's pretty much hokum from start to finish. Billy Bob Thornton and Carla Gugino are both wasted as cops on the trail of the big man, while English actress Oliver Jackson Cohen (the 'Lark Rise to Candleford' hunky guy) fails to convince as a fellow hit man who also finds himself on the trail of our anti-hero.

On the positive side (yes, there is one), The Rock is actually convincing in the lead role, even on those rare occasions when he gets to show his pain. Watch out for one cracking dramatic sequence during which he confronts one of his targets, now a preacher, family man and utterly reformed character, and we’re left wondering what’s going to happen next. Can you smell what The Rock is cookin'?...

Michael Doherty