By Jack Rico
‘Faster’ is 2010’s Dirty Harry and its star, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, inhabits his character as menacingly as the perilous Clint Eastwood ever did. This is a serious revenge thriller with some moments of gun slinging action; the jokes are absent and the raw pounding revenge only moves one way – forward. The action is light so don’t expect any Jason Bourne choreographed fight sequences or Michael Bay explosions as the star walks away unscathed. With ‘Faster’ you get a deeply tormented man, hell-bent on revenge as he points, shoots and kills his victims without consideration of any consequences or regard for the law. It is genuine, uncensored, R rated fun.
The plot is straightforward. After 10 years in prison, ‘Driver’ (Dwayne Johnson) has a singular focus – to avenge the murder of his brother during the botched bank robbery that led to his imprisonment. Now a free man, with a vintage Super Sport Chevelle, a Redhawk Alaskan Ruger and a deadly to-do list in hand, Driver’s finally on his mission which lasts 5 days. But two men are on his trail – a veteran cop (Billy Bob Thornton) just days from retirement, and a young egocentric hitman (Oliver Jackson- Cohen) with a flair for the art of killing and a newfound worthy opponent. The hunter is also the hunted. It’s a do or die race to the list’s finish as the mystery surrounding his brother’s murder deepens, and new details emerge along the way hinting that Driver’s list may be incomplete.
Faster possesses the proverbial traits that 70’s stars such as Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood made so famous by toting their Death Wish guns and snarly stone cold stares. Those films were also dark and followed a very simple and distinct storyline, with the main characters layered with subtle complexities and intricacies to them. Faster is modeled in the same way, but it’s even more somber and grave. Director George Tillman, Jr. (Notorious, Men of Honor, Soul Food) does a great job of capturing the dour tone to the film and the despair of our protagonist. The script by Tony and Joe Gayton, though, has its deficiencies such as the lengthy bouts of unwanted drama that drags the film away from what we want – the relentless pursuit of revenge.
Johnson, who will always be The Rock to me whether he likes it or not, makes a triumphant return to the action/thriller genre. And he does so by rarely uttering a word. If he spewed 10 sentences in the whole movie it was too much. It’s an effective performance because it demands intensity but not range – something at which The Rock excels.
There is a redeeming quality to all the rage and violence we live vicariously through Driver, but with a movie like this it is irrelevant, since he or she who goes see this, wouldn’t mind ‘unredeeming’, shameless, brutal onslaughts of bullet piercing deaths. What I must caution is if you are expecting something fast-paced and frantic, you’ll most likely to be disappointed. There is a bit more substance here and I for one appreciate it.
Rated: R for strong violence, some drug use and language.
Release Date: 2010-11-24
Screenplay: Tony Gayton, Joe Gayton
Director(s): George Tillman Jr.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Maggie Grace
Distributor: CBS Films
Film Genre: Action | Crime | Drama