'Faster' Review: Over the Top ... In Every Bad Way Imaginable
In case you don’t recognize the archetypes in the new film “Faster,” the filmmakers are kind enough to flash their roles across the screen when the main characters first appear. The main character, played by Dwayne Johnson, is the "Driver." He is being pursued by the "Cop" (Billy Bob Thornton) and by the "Killer" (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). For the sake of full disclosure, the words "Waste of Time" should have appeared onscreen at the beginning. That way, audiences would know what to expect during the approximately ninety minutes that follow.
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As the story begins, Driver is getting out of jail. In their final meeting, the warden notes how Driver has embraced his dark side in prison. Driver has fought and beaten many of his fellow prisoners in order to protect himself and the warden hopes that he will begin a new life outside of jail. Driver doesn't appreciate the advice. He just wants to know where the exit is.
Soon enough, Driver arrives in an office building. Ignoring the receptionist, he searches for a telemarketer who is on a list that he carries around with him. He finds who he is looking for and kills him. Shortly thereafter, the police arrive and begin an investigation. They eventually determine that Driver is a former bank robber who worked alongside his brother. After one robbery, a group of thieves attacked the brothers and forced Driver to reveal where the money was hidden. Afterwards, the thieves killed his brother and killed Driver. Unfortunately for them, Driver didn't stay dead.
Now that he's out of jail, Driver plans to kill everyone responsible for his brother's death. Johnson plays Driver as a one-note simplistic character bent on revenge.
The two other main characters in this story are the “cop” and the “killer.” The cop is pursuing Driver while trying to reconcile with his wife and spend more time with his son. The killer is an assassin hired to kill Driver. Throughout the film, the killer is the most interesting character. He starts off quitting yoga after he "conquers" it. He's trying to challenge himself so he works as a part-time assassin but after he gets married, his wife insists that he get out of the business. However, he quickly becomes obsessed with Driver and wants to finish off this one last job.
From beginning to conclusion, “Faster” is inundated with outdated clichés about cops and vigilantes. The cop's relationship with his son and the fact that he is a few weeks from leaving the force show how little this movie has to offer. We've seen characters like him dozens of times before. Driver, on the other hand, is the "typical" vigilante. He's tough and vengeful on the outside but when his heart strings are tugged, he becomes soft and forgiving. The killer, who speaks to his therapist regularly, is arrogant but self-conscious. He's Tony Soprano if the mobster practiced yoga.
In addition to the bland characters and the boring story, the plot pushes the boundaries of believability dozens of times. The car chase sequences are so over the top you would think that the movie is spoofing action movies, not adding to the genre. Also, the story loses a lot of credibility when it shows Driver, who was pronounced dead, waking up in a hospital and removing the blankets that the doctors had placed on him. I knew “The Rock” was tough but I didn’t think he was immortal.
Overall, “Faster” is just another bland and uninspired entry in the action adventure genre. It offers nothing new and is a complete waste of time. If you're driving past a movie theater showing this film and someone with you says that they want to see it, I have two words of advice.