Review: Faster (2010)

Faster is a new action-thriller from director George Tillman, Jr.

The film centers on an ex-con, Driver (Dwayne Johnson), who sets out to avenge his brother’s death after they were double-crossed during a heist years ago. During his campaign, however, he’s tracked by a veteran cop (Billy Bob Thornton) and an egocentric hit man (Oliver Jackson-Cohen).

While the premise has several notable elements of intrigue, the treatment, by writing duo Tony and Joe Gayton, is every bit as bleak and lackluster as expected; weighed down by exposition, formulaic direction and clichéd plot points.

It’s not at all helped by the screenwriters’ tendency to shift emphasis onto pointless, misleading subplots, like Killer’s backstory: a character that simply lacks the urgency needed to occupy such a large part that bears little importance to the main plot’s overall direction.

Tillman Jr’s unwillingness to take advantage of the narrative’s innately fun, B-movie potential guarantees that Faster – aside from the odd car chase and shoot-out – is every bit as intolerable as audiences have come to expect with such a conventional genre, the complete opposite of what Drive Angry, a film similar in ideas, achieved.

Johnson is – somewhat surprisingly – Faster’s greatest assest, in a role that proves he possesses the charm and presence needed to excel in the action genre. Here he’s the tough guy he needs to be, delivering a truly menacing performance: reticent, destructive and unrelenting.

It’s easily one of Johnson’s most compelling performances – certainly enough to redeem him of his recent fare of deplorable “family-comedy” roles.

Thornton looks annoyed and every bit reluctant to be in such frivolous fluff, but in a decidedly head-scratching way this informs his on screen persona, Cop, in an interesting, alluring and slick fashion.

Aside from Thornton, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Carla Gugino – as one of the men on Driver’s hit list and a detective after his head respectively – are the only two supporting cast members who distinguish themselves and carve out plausible characters you can empathise with – and that’s miraculous considering their shamefully limited screen time and laughable dialogue.

The rest of the supporting troupe – including the barely seen Jennifer Carpenter, Maggie Grace and Jackson-Cohen – are trivial and wholly disposable.

Faster is a passable yet mediocre and highly forgettable action-thriller, salvaged only by Johnson’s surprisingly rousing performance.

Advertisements