Faster is the type of flick Dwayne Johnson was tailored made for. Granted, the script negates his natural comedic presence, but roles of this caliber is where his star could possibly shine the brightest. If Johnson ever puts on a pink tutu in a family comedy (Tooth Fairy), someone needs to go old school and rock bottom his agent.
Now just because Johnson nails the role, doesn’t necessarily mean the flick finds the mark. Faster is 100 minutes of intense emotion and reflection. Bullets fly, car chases occur and the characters are wound so tight they could all burst at any moment. Kind of has an old western vibe to it at times. With everything moving in the right direction, the one road block that could possibly slow this flick down is the familiarity the audience may feel with the recycled story.
Dwayne Johnson is simply know as Driver. He’s just been released from jail after ten years and literally runs to his classic muscle car, which has been kept hidden in a garage. His first stop as free man, a telemarketing office. Where he strolls right in and blows a man’s brains out. After the authorities get access to the security tapes, Driver’s face is all over the news. Detective Cicero (Carla Gugino) is put on the case. Reluctantly, she is paired up with the about retire Billy Bob Thorton, who plays a character simply titled Cop. Billy Bob looks like he’s been on a bender for the last couple years, yet he manages to carry the load alongside Cicero, in helping out on this random case. A case that sees Driver going from location to location killing a certain group of people.
The people Driver is tracking down aren’t random as the detectives eventually learn. Driver is on a mission to avenge his brother’s murder. With the brief assistance of Roy (Mike Epps), Driver is working off a list which details the crew who murdered his brother right in front of him. Knowing this, a mysterious puppet master hires a unique contract Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) to eliminate Driver before he kills everyone on the list.
Mentioned above, this flick can feel recycled. That said, last time this author checked, recycling is a good thing. This flick can be summarized by looking at each character’s modus operandi found in this script and connecting it to another prior story. For instance, Dwayne Johnson’s character is realistic version of The Crow or The Punisher. He has a list of people that wronged him in the past, and he’s comeback to set things right in his mind. The character has a stoic persona – complete with a death stare and heavy breathing – and never says more than a sentence, save for one scene when the subtle, yet obvious twist is inserted. Jackson-Cohen’s role as the hit-man is basically a rip-off of Antonio Banderas’ character from Assassins. The Faster script provides a bit more substance for the character, but in the end, it’s all about being number one and satisfying your ego.
Then there’s Billy Bob Thorton playing the once dirty cop who is trying to bury his past mistakes. So many flicks come to mind when seeing this character. Stallone, Willis, Cage and just about every other action star from the 90’s all have a role such as this on their respective resume. Thorton gives a smooth performance but the obvious direction of where it’s heading has this being more-or-less a worthless plot point. Besides the three leads, the rest of the cast is made-up of cameos ranging from Tom Berenger to Jennifer Carpenter. Although small roles, they help bridge together the static story.
Even with many sub plots being glossed over, the scripting and editing pieces together a coherent story for the audience to follow. What one ends up having is three mini-movies mashed into one. The web created by writers Joe and Tony Gayton is well-thought out for a revenge tale. For the most part, director George Tillman Jr. keeps this production under control so the action and story levels stay even. The one production quality that is overused is the tight shots on all the characters. There would have been a better emotional response from the audience if the camera zoomed out about twenty-feet. For whatever reason, every audience member is face-to-face with the cast. Tillman Jr. eventually realizes to pull back in the climatic sequence, but he misses the window of opportunity long before that. Very poor choice of cinematography and it becomes a waste since he positions the characters perfectly in the majority of scenes.
Overall, Faster encompasses a bunch of updated performances created from cinema’s past. The scripting and cinematography shows its vulnerability as it presses on, but the piercing characters will keep one’s interest levels peaked the entire way through. Dwayne Johnson is a force to be reckoned with on screen by simply doing minimalist work. Faster isn’t the most intelligent script in the genre, but it mixes up enough drama and action to make this worth the time. By working within the limits set forth in the story, the flick provides a consistent level of raw entertainment.
Faster (3.5 out of 5)