Faster – 2010

Directed by George Tillman, Jr.

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thorton, Carla Gugino, Tom Berenger, Moon Bloodgood, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Maggie Grace, Mike Epps

Written by Joe and Tony Gayton

There is a prologue to the movie Faster in which Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is getting out of prison.  He looks real hard at a picture of himself with another person, which, one could guess, is his brother.  He looks really steamed for a guy getting out of prison.  He is marched into the Warden’s (Berenger) office.  The Warden gives him a long list of helpful information about support he can get outside the bars.  Johnson says nothing.  The Warden asks if there are any more questions that he can answer.  Johnson finally says he just wants to know the direction of the door.  Then, at said door, The Rock looks out on the barren lands surrounding the prison.  No one is coming to pick him up.  So he starts to run.  On foot.  What an ironically bad way to start a movie called Faster.

Johnson, playing Driver, literally named getaway driver for a bank robbery for which he got nabbed and served 10 years.  Why and how is for you to find out, as he goes down the list of those who wronged him and shoots ’em, stabs them and sometimes shoots them again.  Some of these guys need killing.  There’s a telemarketer (hate those guys), a pedophile (really hate those guys) and a bouncer (normally don’t hate those guys, but he’s on the list, so…).

The list is one obtained from a mysterious guy with a big bouncer near the beginning of the film.  How he obtained the list is irrelevant, because we aren’t double checking the research here.  Like Vasquez said:

“I only need to know one thing: Where they are.”

People outside of the list include Billy Bob Thorton, as the crooked cop,  Carla Gugino as the good cop and Oliver Jackson-Cohen as the killer.  Calling anyone “The Killer” in a movie like this is kind of redundant, as everyone seems to have more than one notch on their belt.

I could list out the clichés one by one, express a measure of disappointment that an actor with the talent (yes, talent) of Johnson keeps getting tied into below average productions made by directors like Tillman, Jr. who have done better work (the Barbershop films).  What good would it do.  There are many movies made like this every season.  They serve the same purpose for men as any of the films of Anne Fletcher (Step Up, 27 Dresses, The Proposal) would do for women.   I knew this movie was trash before I picked it up, watched it all the way through, and I enjoyed it as such.

Among the highlights of this effort is the performance of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as a Preacher with a past (like there ever is a preacher without a past).  The scene between he and the Driver is almost better than the film deserves, going a long way to redeeming them both.  I do like the hospital scene for its completeness, mixed with the back and forth phone calls between a son and his father’s killer.  I sincerely wish Gugino had more of a presence in the film, as too much Billy Bob is never as good a thing as he thinks it is.

I am not sure how many more movies like this Johnson will make before he finds the director to utilize his considerable talent as well as mitigate his action hero size.  His eyes are remarkably revealing when compared to, say, Charles Bronson.  If his gamble with Richard Kelly on Southland Tales  would have worked, he might be on his way to Samuel L. Jackson territory.  For now, he will mix in sequels to block busters with action trash and the occasional experiment.  Here’s hoping he makes it.

By the end of the film, after a gunfight, my wife asked me why they called the movie Faster.  I couldn’t tell her.  Maybe they were trying to cash in on the title of his next film.

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