Director: George Tillman Jr
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Carla Gugino, Maggie Grace, Moon Bloodgood
As some of you might know, Dwayne Johnson a.k.a. The Rock is my favourite wrestler. When he first started his Hollywood career, he starred in some decent action films like The Scorpion King and The Rundown. But then he had to go do those below average kiddie comedies like Race To Witch Mountain and The Tooth Fairy.
So I was rather excited that he was finally going back to do something serious with Faster. No more little cute kids, just more ass-kicking.
Now, on the poster it may look like a film starring Dwayne Johnson, but Faster is actually a film that focuses on three men: Driver (Johnson), Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) and Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Notice how the protagonists are named by description instead of an actual name?
Anyway, we begin with Driver, who is released from prison after serving ten years. Before he was jailed, he was part of a bank heist with his brother. Unfortunately another gang ambushed them, killed his brother and left Driver for dead. Now he wants some payback, and he starts gunning the gang members down one by one.
The first attack by Driver gets the attention of Cop, who investigates the case with his partner Cicero (Carla Gugino). Cop happens to be a drug addict who has marital problems, but is determined to make things right with his wife and son.
Then we are introduced to Killer, a guy who takes a lot of pride in what he does, and at the same time seeks to settle down with his girlfriend Lily (Maggie Grace). He gets a call from a client who wants Driver dead, so he decides to take one last job before retiring.
Director George Tillman Jr has made a film that I would say is unique. It's not necessarily great, but unique. It's unique because first of all, as mentioned earlier, the three main characters are referred to by description and not by name. All three of them are given equal time, and it's not until you get to the last third of the film when you realise that they're connected in some way. This connection is the twist in this story, which isn't too surprising, but to some extent it works.
Tillman hasn't quite got the pace of the film to my taste, but the one thing I did like is the music. Throughout the film we are given a nice dose of blues and rock numbers, which suit the tone of the film well. This is a revenge flick after all, and blues and rock is the right way to go here.
Johnson is a somewhat perfect fit for Driver, though I must say his character is a tad two dimensional. He doesn't deviate from his quest for vengeance from start to finish, other than one minor detour he takes to see his former girlfriend played by Jennifer Carpenter. That being said, Driver isn't much of a stretch for Johnson, but at least he's starting to take serious roles again, so that's a good sign.
Thornton certainly looks the part of Cop, except he has messier hair instead of none. The script's attempt to gain the audience's sympathy for him by revealing his sob story doesn't really work, especially when they try a bit too hard at times. But Thornton always has great screen presence, so it's always good to have him around.
Jackson-Cohen, on the other hand, gets the rather hilarious role as Killer. I say hilarious because, well....he isn't like most killers I've seen on film. Sure, he has the good looks, the precision, the pride, he even has the cold blooded look in his eyes down pat. But the way his character was written is rather strange. For a man who takes tremendous pride in his work, it's odd to note that he is more human than most of his peers that I've watched over the years. Most killers who yearn for a normal life usually take no joy in what they do, even if they're very good at it. But Killer? He has an ego, which suffers from some serious bruising after his first encounter with Driver, and the more the script tries to humanise him, the less believable it gets. I like him, but he's still an odd element in this film.
Gugino provides some nice support here as Cop's partner while Maggie Grace looks impossibly gorgeous here, even if she doesn't have a heck of a lot to do.
As for drawbacks, I have to mention that there are major plotholes involving logic, like why the cops can't catch Driver when he shoots people in broad daylight and there are witnesses around. As an action film, it kinda works. It's not The Rock's best film obviously, but it's a start, and I'm keen to see what he does next.
Verdict: a decent way to spend two hours if you like revenge tales. (3.5/5)