Wednesday, November 24, 2010


After spending 10 years in prison for his part in an armed robbery a man who is only ever referred to as "Driver" or "Ghost" (Dwayne "Stop Calling Me The Rock" Johnson) walks out of the big house and immediately begins to hunt down the men (including Courtney Gains, John Cirigliano, Lester Speight) who robbed his crew and killed his brother (Matt Gerald).

If you've seen the trailer for Faster you might assume that's the entire story. It's not. Not satisfied with simply delivering a good ol' revenge tale filled with an ever increasing body count, screenwriters Tony Gayton and Joe Gayton give us not one but two more stories.

The first involves a burned-out detective (Billy Bob Thornton) who is days away from retirement, has a nasty drug habit and an estranged wife (Moon Bloodgood) and son (Aedin Mincks), and who is assigned to the case - much the dismay of the lead detective (Carla Gugino). Most of this plotline deals with chasing down "Driver," but we also get several unrelated scenes of the cop's screwed-up life.

The last storyline involves a hitman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who may have had polio as a child (the movie cannot stop showing us pictures of him as a child on crutches) who is hired to stop "Driver." There are a few tense confrontations over the course of the film between "Killer" and "Driver" (anyone else wondering how long it took two screenwriters to come up with those names?), but most of this story has more to do with his relationship to his girlfriend (Maggie Grace) and their future together than actually stopping The Rock's character.

Faster isn't an awful film, but it bites off far more than it can chew. The three separate stories never really fit together, and the attempt to merge them during the film's climax is the worst kind of late-movie twist. The script is constantly moving between the three plotlines and comes off unfocused at times. This isn't one main story with several subplots. This is three separate tales only loosely connected to each other, all of which could use a full-length feature to flesh out completely.

And the film wastes much of what it has going for it. I wanted more of Grace's character, who is really only used here as a simple plot device and some yummy eye candy (appearing in scenes in sexy lingerie or nude, covered only by well-placed bed sheet). Tom Berenger has small performance as the warden in the film's opening sequence, but quickly disappears. And Gugino, the cop we actually want to see, is given far less screentime than Thornton's phoned-in performance. These are all characters which a smarter film would make better use of and develop.

The action scenes are adequately done, and the first murder "Driver" commits is the best of his kills, simply due to its immediacy and shock value. That said, there's nothing all the special, memorable, or fun going on here. The script is without humor or style. But the cars are nice. That's something, right?

Faster never tries to be more than a cheap B-movie action flick--the kind better suited to a brooding, ultra-serious action star like Jason Statham or Vin Diesel. The Rock, who has infinite amounts more charm, is limited by the small amount of dialogue and emotion he gets to showcase here. (I think Stallone had more lines in Rambo III.) The film's ending is also extremely anti-climactic, leaving much to be resolved in what appears to be the inevitable sequel. Hopefully it will be more entertaining.

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