Revenge films can be a lot of fun. However, if the general vengeance taking place is mean-spirited, vicious and ugly, most of that fun goes right out the window. What helps is having a charismatic hero take center stage, someone you can applaud when he barely scrapes out of dire situations and cheer on when he delivers punishment to those who deserve it most. Sadly, Faster doesn’t give us any of these things. There’s virtually no comedy relief, the violence is brutal and grim, and the characters aren’t even given names. Not that names would have affected their overall likeability or believability. There’s an ex-con getaway driver with only a single emotion – anger. An egotistical hitman with achievement issues chases him down and a corrupt cop with drug and marital problems tries to clean up the mess. Sound like anyone you’d want to root for?When his brother gets him involved in a bank robbery that leads to betrayal and ultimately death, Driver (Dwayne Johnson) miraculously survives a bullet to the head and a ten year prison sentence to exact his own brand of justice to those that set him up. Acquiring a fast set of wheels, a big gun, and a list of names, Driver begins methodically hunting down and killing everyone responsible for his brother’s murder. As he steadily crosses off each name, an accomplished assassin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) struggles to end the Driver’s reign of vengeance and police officers Slade (Billy Bob Thornton) and Cicero (Carla Gugino) attempt to sort through the clues to stop them both.
Like any movie intent on exploiting the use of a very particular actor known for bodybuilding physique, Faster opens with a shot of moist pectoral muscles, then continues on to cut from inserts of a prison cell to various flexing, sweaty body parts. It’s completely unnecessary, like the stern stares, the Herculean poses in slow-motion, and the cheesy one-line retorts, but definitely expected from a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. What isn’t so typical is the violence he’s involved with, especially after a string of family friendly Disney comedies. It’s as if he’s trying to prove he still has what it takes to be a serious action star, despite having an over-the-top persona that yields his murderous revenge rampage completely unbelievable. Although he’s the star and the script was almost certainly written for him, he’s terribly miscast.
The other characters that are badly placed are the cars. Ferraris and other luxurious roadsters must share the screen with Driver’s classic Chevelle, almost as if Faster was trying to mimic both an action movie and a car commercial. Add to that the extra storylines for the Killer from a clothing advertisement and his glamorous girlfriend (with their penchants for racing, shooting guns and getting married, all in a day’s work), and the Cop’s troubled past with his rehabilitated ex-wife and chunky child, and you’ve got detailed, weighty, conflicted subplots that battle for the top spot. It kills any chance of Faster being regarded as a legitimate action film – it’s all just too silly.
Further nonsense includes Driver’s uncanny ability to drive up in his recognizable car and traipse around with his hulking figure and massive hand cannon in the most conspicuous methods possible without ever being apprehended, and his laughable/painful wordlessness. And what is the significance of the days being marked and monikers scrawled across the screen like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? Driver is never pressed for time and most of the characters have actual names. Perhaps the most entertaining fault to the film is the nagging, pervasive loudspeaker theme of: “Teens who have snuck into the theater, please do not copy what The Rock is about to do!”- The Massie Twins