Why so serious? Faster, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is his return to seemingly watchable movies, is an unpleasant, cliché-ridden revenge-fantasy that goes about itself completely wrong. If you’re going to make a movie with absolutely zero redeemable characters, at least inject some life through black comedy or just take it completely over-the-top. Faster actually wants us to take this seriously, and it’s crushed under its own weight with this assertion. What it does achieve, however, are the most tire-squealing 180’s and most screen time spent with characters pointing guns at one another.
Johnson plays Driver, who at the beginning of the film is being released from a high security prison. His plan now that he’s on the outside: recover his black-and-white Chevelle and track down every punk who was responsible for the killing of his brother in a bank heist gone wrong. Hot on the trail are Cop (Thornton – this is the kind of movie where the characters don’t even have proper names) and Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who’s been hired on a contract to take out Driver.
Director George Tillman Jr. must be under the impression that Faster is breaking new ground, because there’s no other explanation for the deadly seriousness of this whole thing. Faster takes place in the kind of world where a recently paroled convict can kill without consequence, have his face plastered all over the news, and then waltz into a hospital to kill a man during surgery. Some hit-and-miss humor is injected through Thornton’s typical recovering cop character, but in all this is a poker-faced action picture when the proper reaction to most of the developments is inopportune laughter.
Johnson has two modes in this flick: angry and reloading. I doubt he has more than a dozen lines of dialogue, but is still effective as a physical presence. Billy Bob Thornton basically does Bad Santa as a cop, but at least he seems under the impression that this was at one time an over-the-top guilty pleasure. Oliver Jackson-Cohen, as the hit man, is completely extraneous. There are even subplots involving his new wife (Maggie Grace) that have nothing to do with anything. What’s the point?
That question can be applied to the film as a whole. Some viewers can live vicariously through these kinds of revenge fantasies, but Faster is over-leveraged and too impressed with itself to be a stout action film or revenge story. It’s surprisingly talky and a long 98 minutes. From an action perspective, it offers absolutely nothing new or interesting. It’s one tired cliché after another, all wrapped in an air of unpleasantness and self-seriousness.
Studio: CBS Films
Length: 98 Minutes
Rating: R for strong violence, some drug use and language.
Theatrical Release: November 24, 2010
Directed by: George Tillman Jr.
Written by: Tony Gayton & Joe Gayton.
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Maggie Grace, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Moon Bloodgood