The action genre has changed dramatically over the last 30 or so years and straightforward revenge films like “Death Wish” have all but been eradicated from the mainstream. “Faster” the latest film by “Notorious” director George Tillman Jr. attempts to bring this classic film form back employing a strong cast including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton.
“Faster” is the story of an ex-con, Driver (The Rock), who sets out to avenge the decade old murder of his brother. Driver has had a list compiled while he has been in prison of all who were involved and is now working his way down it one by one. It is a simple enough premise but for some reason the writers (Tony and Joe Gayton) have decided to fill out the 98 minute run time with smattering of inane subplots that continuously take away from the main point of the film.
In fact, while revenge is the constant motivator for Driver little else about the film makes any sense. For one, why is the film called “Faster”? The story is told at a deliberate pace that can at times grind to a dead halt, making it somewhat painful to watch. It also isn’t named after the fact that there are a ton of car chases in this movie, despite the marketing, because there are precisely two throughout the entire film. For another, why is there a third character arc involving an assassin that does nothing but take up running time with his constant egocentric babble. And finally how does a movie with such a tried and true premise suck every ounce of fun out of “The Rock”?
There was a time when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was pegged as the next big action star. Somewhere between playing a gay body guard in “Be Cool” and his run of family friendly films where he sometimes pranced around in a tutu his career got off track. Regardless of how off track “The Rock” got though he still has a loyal cadre of fans and his starring turn here in “Faster” makes a lot of sense on paper. Unfortunately this role was written for someone with absolutely no personality. It was actually physically hard to watch the performance by “The Rock” in this film because he is so much better than what this role was.
Thee writing is sloppy and the casting of “The Rock” was ridiculous but not everything about “Faster” was awful. The film looks great, really evoking the feel of the classic 70s revenge flicks. The music is particularly fitting and Billy Bob Thornton gives a fantastic performance as the shady, junky cop investigating Driver’s killing spree. When looked at as a whole though, “Faster” is a picture that is stuck in the mud trying desperately to get out but it can’t because it is being held back by a ton of superfluous nonsense that no one had the sense to trim from the final piece.
2 out of 5.