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The problem lies not within the actor(s), not within the director, but in the choices.

  • Jul 24, 2011
** out of ****

"Faster", with both its cast and its attached filmmaker, could have made for a wild, thoroughly entertaining action-thriller. It doesn't have an interesting or original premise, but it's one that could have been made to work. Some people have things within them which allow them to make films differently; although never make actual different films. It's called recycling, and if "Faster" could have made use of such a thing, I imagine that even I could have enjoyed myself more than I did. Honestly, I kind of enjoyed myself, and that's in all honesty; but the movie is too slow to be fast.

Then again, I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised, given that stuff like "The A-Team" was thrown at us every week in 2010, and my favorite action film out of the bunch was "The Losers". But "Faster" should have been better than "The A-Team"; although being better than "The Losers" would have been a difficult task. That was masterfully made dumb fun; and it doesn't come around often...not quite like that. "Faster", on the other hand, is more generic, boring brutality. It has its moments, but don't most films?

An imprisoned man simply called The Driver (Dwayne Johnson) is released into the world once more. We learn that he was in jail for a bank robbery, which involved several people, and most importantly, the death of his brother. Now, he intends to avenge the death of his kin by killing everyone who was at the scene that very day, and he will stop at nothing. He's a man who seems to be on speed every second of his life; although he never quite slows down when the drug wears off.

Now, he's got some eyes on him. One belongs to a man who is called "The Cop" (Billy Bob Thornton). He's down-on-his-luck, possibly recovering from addiction, and has a family of his own; which he loves and treasures. He's not perfect, but he wants to get the job done. This is why he hires The Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a rich, selfless adrenaline junkie who is younger, smarter, and faster (than Cop).

Bloody gun-fights, shootouts, and throat-slittings occur in stylized fashion. This is a rated-R thriller, and it's damn proud of it. Why shouldn't it be? Most directors agree to cut their films in order to please the MPAA...but here's a movie that doesn't care. But why was I not engaged throughout? The film is entertaining and sometimes even ingenious, but does that make it good? No, I don't think so. I said that it is only sometimes entertaining and ingenious, which means: not all the time.

So...should you care about "Faster"? It is a well-acted, skillfully crafted and stylishly directed action-thriller. It has a few good thrills, most of them violent, but never does it go beyond the standard genre expectations, which is quite sad. I enjoyed Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's performance in the leading role, as well as Billy Bob Thornton's; but they were never playing characters. The film dislikes and cares so little about its protagonists and antagonists that it fails to supply us with names for any of them. Actually...there are a few minor characters who have names, but maybe that's because they are minor, and it's impossible to give a damn (or to not give a damn) about them anyways.

The film was directed by George Tillman. If you ask me, I believe he might have a future as a skilled and even brilliant director from here-on-out. He makes some big mistakes with "Faster", and that's part of why it's not a good film, but it looks good, it has at least some energy, and it is well-acted; which is why, ultimately, it's not a bad one either. Tillman can make a better film, with all the things he has already and more, if he only tries a bit harder next time. I've got faith; and forgiveness, for what he's done here. But while I have these things, I shall not mislead you. I did not like "Faster". It was violent, ruthless, and sometimes stupid (in an almost endearing and/or smart way). Whether you will like it or not depends on how familiar or passionate you are about this genre, because if you don't like it, then you're going to need more than popcorn and some soda to get through the experience of watching this actioner.

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A stint in prison usually has one of two effects on a man – it either breaks him down or makes him stronger. For Driver (Dwayne Johnson), a 10-year sentence proved the latter. His strength was not just fueled by time, but also by a hunger to avenge the murder of his brother during the botched bank robbery that led to his own imprisonment. Untouchable on the 'inside,' he made plenty of enemies in prison - men who were counting the days until his release so they could exact their own revenge on the outside. Now, on the day of his release, he is hell-bent on reaping vengeance upon the four men responsible for his brother's murder. With a list of names and addresses in hand, he sprints out of the prison gates and is immediately on his mission.

No regard for witnesses. No finesse to the acts. One down. Check. Within hours of Driver eliminating the first name on the list, two men are on his trail – Cop (Billy Bob Thornton), a veteran police officer just days from retirement, and Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a young egocentric hitman with a flair for the art of killing. The hunter is now also the hunted.

Without hesitation, Driver methodically continues down his list while the mystery deepens surrounding his brother's murder and who might have tipped off those responsible to their robbery plans. With each killing, Driver finds himself face to face with Cop or Killer and he evades them every time. Killer wants Driver now more than ever – ...
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Director: George Tillman Jr.
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: Nov. 24, 2010
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Joe Gayton
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