Rated R for strong violence, some drug use and language.
Review taken from my other site Movie Toboggan; in others words SHAMELESS PLUG SHAMELESS PLUG SHAAAAAAAAAAAAMELESSSSSSSSSSSSS PLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUG.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Carla Gugino
Written by: Tony Gayton/Joe Gayton
Directed by: George Tillman Jr.
Sometimes actors decide that they want to expand their craft, so they’ll do a low budget indie or play completely against type. Dwayne Johnson took a different direction; after being heralded as the next king of the action genre, he took a complete 180 and began starring in a series of Disney films and even lending his voice to the animated Planet 51. People were sad; how could a man with a career so promising turn his back on the genre begging for him to join their ranks in order to prance around as a tooth fairy? Well masses, you got your wish because Dwayne Johnson has returned in Faster, directed by George Tillman Jr. Unfortunately, it isn’t the return many of us had hoped for; instead of a balls to the wall action flick, we get a movie that gets muddled in undefined and useless characters, and one that seems to drag on forever…and ever…and ever…and you get my point.
Johnson stars as Driver, a man who has been incarcirated for ten years in a maximum security prison. Beforehand, he was the getaway driver for his half brother and their gang during a bank heist and everything had seemingly gone well…until they were double crossed and a rival gang ambushed them. Long story short, Driver’s half-brother ends up dead, and Driver spends the next decade in prison preparing to extract his revenge on the people who made his life hell. And with his release firmly in place, he goes about doing just that, complete with a car, a gun, and the location of every gang member thanks to a shifty black marketeer (Mike Epps in a very small role).
Now, we could just stop there and that would be enough for an entertaining revenge story. Fasterdoesn’t though, and adds a few wrinkles. The first are a pair of cops, the ridiculously good at her job Cicero (Carla Gugino) and the junkie who’s almost retired but has just one last case Cop (Billy Bob Thornton…how the mighty hath fallen), who are on the case to arrest Driver. Also on the case is a mercenary hit man named Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a former web genius turned millionaire who loves the thrill of the hunt. He is given this job by a mysterious member of the rival gang Driver wants to take down in a twist anyone with a brain can sense coming a mile away. Killer also has a girlfriend (Maggie Grace) and is pretty deep on a character level, but that turns out to be an issue which I’ll get to in a second.
I don’t expect my action movies to necessarily be coherent or make a lot of sense, but I at least hope to be entertained. Faster to my dismay didn’t accomplish this. Instead of being that balls to the wall action flick that you expect from the trailer, it tries to give it extra layers that it doesn’t need, namely the side characters and the attempts at dealing with the themes of revenge and redemption (which they deal with very out loud and you can’t miss). The dialogue is wretched, and sounds completely unnatural like it sounded good on the page but not in execution. As a main character, Driver is painfully boring; sure he has the motive, but he doesn’t really have a personality or any characteristics. He could be a machine for all we know, which in some ways I guess he is (he’s a methodical killing machine, impervious to security cameras and bystanders). If I want to follow someone on a revenge journey, there’s got to be at least one characteristic I dig; instead, Driver could have been anybody and like Eric D. Snider said in his Film.com review, he’s a “blank slate”.
My biggest annoyance had to do with the character of Killer. Dumb “not a name” aside, he’s the only interesting character in the whole movie. He’s got legitimate depth to him, but he’s completely wasted and feels like an add-on. Having the two cops chasing Driver is enough, especially when you need to devote time to the dude actually killing his targets, but throwing in Killer’s inferiority complex at not being able to nab Driver was too much. Let’s not forget his romance with his girlfriend, which is given far too much time considering how nonessential he ends up being.
Dwayne Johnson belongs in action films; given the right script and role, he could really knock it out of the park. Faster is a stumble in every way, too convoluted and filled with unnecessary things that it feels just as long as the five days it takes place in, but I hope it doesn’t discourage Johnson into retreating back into the House That Mickey Built. Someone’s gotta take on Jason Statham to see who will be the King of Action, you know?