In theory Faster is Dwayne ďThe RockĒ Johnsonís return to the violent, gritty, action movies he should have been doing all along. Faster is violent and gritty but, when it comes to action, thereís just not a lot of it.
Part of the problem is Johnsonís character, a single-minded killer who when released for prison, immediately sets out to murder a list of people. The film calls him Driver, but if he has a name, we never know it. Driver stalks through the film hunting victims, victims who never really put up much of a fight, and sort of just stand there while he walks in the front door and shoots them in the head. There isnít a lot of excitement here, unless you count brains splattered all over the wall. Faster isnít so much an action movie, rather itís more of a character study, about a lead character without much of a personality.
We never really know much about Driver other than heís utterly focused on revenge. Throughout the film he struggles to avoid any distraction, and even though things get more complicated around him, he simply lowers his head and fights to ignore everything until the people heís after, for reasons which eventually become apparently, are utterly dead.
Driverís not much of a character but Johnson is so good to glaring holes in the screen and stalking through hallways and streets with animal purpose that it nearly doesnít matter. Maybe thereís a good short film in here somewhere in which The Rock tries to set his enemies on fire by simply staring at them. Iíd pay to see that. Johnsonís great, with whatever heís given, and the movie really tries hard. Itís stylish and well shot. But itís not a short film and watching a guy walk around for hours looking isnít much of a story. It wants to be Kill Bill but doesnít have enough material to be Kill Bill, and so much of the movieís running time is occupied with what can only be described as filler.
While we learn little about Driver we learn everything there is to know about the people chasing him, except for why we should care about any of these pursuers at all. Thereís Billy Bob Thornton as a junkie cop and, while his story seems like a waste of time, and while we definitely didnít need to see him hanging out with his son, at least it eventually leads somewhere. Iím at a loss however to explain the presence of Oliver Jackson-Cohen as a character referred to only as ďKillerĒ. Heís a hitman hired to hunt down Driver, and the movie wastes volumes of film on his personal life, developing a character who serves no purpose in the story.
So with a story that doesnít work and a bunch of characters we either donít get to know well or donít really care about, all thatís left to carry Faster is gritty violence. Itís violent and graphic in places, with brains blasting out of heads and splattering on the walls. Yet while it seems to want to be gritty, this is a movie filled with graphic violence but contains a scene in a strip club where none of the strippers ever actually seem to be naked. It doesnít really seem all that interested earning itís R-rating. I guess weíre supposed to be ok with watching a bullet shoot through a manís head, as long as nobody sees a nipple.
Faster tries hard, and at this point in his career Iím just thankful The Rock is in something that doesnít require him to babysit someoneís kid, but thereís not much here for Johnson to work with. Though heís proven an incredibly talented action star, the movie requires little from him in the way of action and doesnít offer enough in the way of character to compensate for it. Itís not particularly good, but at least The Rock isnít wearing a tutu.
Reviewed By: Josh Tyler