Rating: 2.5 out of 4
Tagline: Slow Justice is No Justice.
Directed by: George Tillman Jr.
THE PLAN: The Rock stars as Driver, a man recently released from prison and is bent on revenging the death of his bank robbing brother. Heíll go to any lengths to kill folks no matter who they are or where they are (even during surgery!) In his path stands a druggie cop (Billy Bob) and a rich boy hit man with mental issues.
THE KILL: I remember when Faster came out, and it was billed as the film that would finally solidify Johnson as the king of action. That this was going to be old school throwback action. Maybe even the caliber that would make us forget about Arnold and company. Ok, so maybe no one claimed it would do that, but letís face it, everyone expected the Rock to carry the torch of the action superstar, which at this point seems impossible because the guy doesnít really make action flicks. And besides, no one has been able to pick up the mantel (unless you count Statham) to carry on what dudes in their 60s still do.
Anyway, when Johnson made the leap to movies, he seemed most posed to accomplish this feat of strength, but his career choices have beenÖsafe. Itís like heís afraid to push things too far, to do something daring. I mean, why wasnít he in something like Predators, or the Terminator, or something where he gets his hands a little dirty? Arnold played stupidly violent characters and he became governor, so I donít think itíll hurt a career or anything.
Mr. Johnson doesn't like it when you call him a Rock.
But Faster was supposed to make us think of Johnson as the action star, and in many ways, it did that. This is a mean, brutal movie filled with vengeance, death, and not so positive attitudes (looking at you, Rock). Johnson tries his damnedest to erase all hints of a personality, keeping a scowl firmly in place. He looks the part, but perhaps heís done one too many kids movies now because its tough buying not only buying him, but his character too. Besides, if youíre as gigantic as Johnson, wouldnít he probably be the muscle and not just the driver during a bank robbery? Can he turn his arms fast enough or do the muscles not impede steering ability?
Anyway, the one element that doesnít work here is the bad guys killing bad guys angle. Now I love gangster films, always one of my favorite genres, and those films always have bad on bad crime. But this movie feels like they I should care more about the Rock and what heís doing. Sure, heís pissed and wants blood, but his character is kinda flat. I donít care enough to justify the killing streak, especially when thereís a whole conspiracy angle that tries a bit too hard.
Billy Bob Thornton stars as the cop, and heís always been one of my favorite actors but at times, dude really seems to phone it in. Here, he just is kinda there as a junky cop who canít keep his shit together. He finally tries to get clean and goes to his wife for help, who ends up od-ing on his stash. Oh and they have a pudgy kid who only wants to feel loved and sucks at baseball. Hard to feel much for a family that f*cked up. Itís ok to make a dirty cop all strung out, but his wife too? Druggies arenít exactly the most sympathetic characters, and itíd be nice to have something normal to balance the death in film.
Speaking of unsympathetic characters, the killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) could be one of the dumbest villains ever created. Not only is he a hateable douche, but heís extremely wealthy, seemingly spoiled, and has hot Maggie Grace hanging around (who does nothing in this movie but wear skimpy outfits Ė not a complaint). Oh, and the killer has mental issues which arenít really explained. Faster tries way too hard to make him feel original, but he just became that snobby rich kid that everyone hated.
Maggie looks like she's ready to be taken...
Faster has itís moments, but the action isnít as badass as I hoped. He shoots or stabs everyone, and doesnít really mix it up. He mostly stalks his prey, which leaves actual action waiting in the car. The whole production feels too clean, too crisp to feel as dirty as it wants to be. I want to embrace Johnson as the next ultimate badass, but heís has a ways to go until any of us care.
TOP ACTION: The flashback sequence where Driver outruns a fleet of cops Ė in reverse Ė is pretty intense and actually wish they had more moments like it. In a movie called Faster and starring a guy named Driver, youíd think thereíd be more car chases.
TOP DEATH: Lots of folks get dead, but the opening scene where Driver walks into a business and plugs a gun in cold blood is pretty jarring. Perhaps not the most inventive, but it sets the tone.
TOP DIALOGUE: Not a lot of funny lines, but The Rock does drop some knowledge: ďYou don what you need to do. But you better be sure, cause thatís a long, dark road youíre headed down.
HOMOEROTIC MOMENT: Well, Johnson takes out a dude in the menís roomÖ
FEMALE EXPLOITATION: Maggie Grace doesnít have much to do in the film but look really hot in a bikini and a very lovely wedding dress.
DRINKING GAME: Every time The Rock kills a dude take a drink or he will hunt you down.
TRIVIA: The Rockís first straight action flick since Doom, if you donít count the Rundown or Journey 2.
So this is where I put my action career.