Faster (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Faster (2010)

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ANDREW LIKEFaster is totally preposterous, contains a teleporting near-invincible super criminal as it's protagonist, a cop with severe plot identification issues, and a mysterious assassin who claims to have "mastered yoga" and makes his services available for a nominal fee.  This world of Faster, where physics and reality twain never meet.  Thankfully, it's handled with just enough skill to avoid needing an ironic wink into the camera and I can certainly appreciate that.

Irony is overrated anyway.

Dwayne Johnson (finally free of "The Rock) stars as Driver.  If you're looking to get psychological insights further than "he's slighted and he's angry" then this won't be the film for you.  Then there are the other characters; the appropriately named Cop (Billy Bob Thornton), Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and Cop's partner Cicero (Carla Gugino) who all find themselves on Driver's trail or in his way.

Driver did a 10 year stretch of time in prison and is looking for some immediate payback for his brother.  We have to infer Something Horrible happened to his brother because of the many sad glances Driver gives a photo of the two of them in the beginning.  Honestly, since he really only addresses his brother as such in a flashback, I have to wonder if an earlier draft of the script involved Driver and his "brother" as lovers instead of relatives.  Still, the film leaves it just vague enough that this may be the case...

In case you forget who the characters are...

Another hint as to whether this film is going to be for you or not is that Driver, finally free from prison, runs across the desert to a nearby junkyard where a pristine muscle-car is waiting for him.  Soon afterwards he drives to an office building, walks in, calmly puts a bullet into the brain pan of a cubicle dweller, then strides back to his vehicle without a single fuss.

It turns out that man was the first of many on Driver's list to kill because they were involved in the torture and murder of his brother (which we only find out after many minutes of guess what Horrible Thing happened).  Shortly after the office murder, Cop is on the case and a mysterious contractor hires Killer to find and eliminate Driver as well.

All the while we're treated to numerous glistening scenes of Dwayne Johnson's finely chiseled physique running and fighting through the streets.  The director, George Tillman Jr., makes a number of confusing decision while filming this beefcake festival.  Ocassionally he'll stop and display the name of the character helpfully (as if we'd forget Driver), or display what day it is (Day 1, 2...hey what usually happens on Day 3 of a redemption plot?), or tilt the screen so heavily that I had to frantically search to figure out where the action was.

Why did he do these things?  Probably the same reason everyone else is so effective in the film.  Professionals have an obligation to put out the best they can with the tools provided and once everyone read the script for Faster probably realized they had their work cut out for them.

Despite my occasional questions of necessity, the director really does do a good job creating some interesting visual compositions.

Take Billy Bob Thornton's Cop for example.  Not only is he an investigator, he's a heroin addict, a plucky baseball advisor to his son, an unreliable husband to his wife, a nuisance to his partner, and a myriad of other identities before the film is through.  He's was set to play exactly who he needed to for that moment and nothing more than what was necessary to move the plot on to the next scene.  That's a true professional folks.

Ultimately, that's what makes Faster work.  It's certainly not the plot or characters, but the professionalism involved of everyone elevates what could have been pure bad trash and escalates it into decent entertainment.  There are few people alive who can portray as convincing a hard boiled hero with a heart of gold like Dwayne Johnson and George Tillman Jr.'s touches, while sometimes distracting, did keep the film moving at an interesting pace.

Finally there's just an appealing strangeness associated with the film that I found endearing.  For an action film there is very little real action to be had.  A good portion of the time is dedicated to Driver listening to sermon's of forgiveness and hope and taking time to call the son of a murdered man to say he's sorry (and offer some friendly advice about vengeance).  Combine those moments with Billy Bob playing a character named Cop taking the best dose of heroin on Earth and you've really got the recipe for something strange.

This isn't the kind of film that 's going to change anyone's perception of action movies or, heck, even Dwayne Johnson's career.  But as a more than competently assembled piece of throwback hard boiled vengeance entertainment with a redemption twist?  Strange and satisfying.

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Faster (2010)

Directed by George Tillman Jr.
Screenplay by Tony and Joe Gayton.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

Posted by Andrew

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