Racing Movie Month: "Faster" Review

Photo Credit: CBS Films

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Rating: R
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: November 24, 2010
Directed by: George Tillman Jr.
Genre: Action / Crime / Drama

An unapologetic action film that is surprisingly entertaining, "Faster" does it right on nearly every scale, offering a well-paced plot, decent acting and plenty of ruthless action sequences. When a man named Driver gets out of jail, he sets out on a quest for revenge against the men who double-crossed him and killed his brother. He soon has a notorious cop and an egocentric hit man hot on his tail. Featuring all the elements that make up a good action film, "Faster" is the perfect vehicle for The Rock to showcase his skills.

Driver (Dwayne Johnson) is released from prison after 10 years, and he is set on killing a number of men. He goes to retrieve his gun before heading to Bakersfield to kill a man in an office. He then orders the man who gave him his gun back to give him the information about the rest of the men on his list. Meanwhile, a retiring cop (Billy Bob Thornton) and a detective named Cicero (Carla Gugino) investigate the office crime scene. When Cicero recognizes Driver from some surveillance footage, the chase begins. At the same time, a hit man known simply as "Killer" (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is hired to dispose of Driver.

Driver, unable to think of anything other than his quest for revenge, moves on to the second person on his list. He finds an old man recording obscene footage and kills him immediately. However, Killer knew exactly where Driver was going to be, so he confronts Driver after the old man is dead and opens fire. Both parties narrowly get out alive.

When Detective Cicero realizes how she knows Driver's face, it is revealed that she saw a video of Driver's brother being murdered. Cicero and the cop begin to understand that Driver is killing every person involved in his betrayal and the death of his brother one by one, but who is next? After visiting with his ex-girlfriend, who supports his quest for revenge, Driver heads to a nightclub with a knife to go after the man who murdered his brother. Although he stabs the man and leaves him in the bathroom, the man does not die and is sent to the hospital. The cop knows that Driver will go to the hospital to finish the job, so he lies in wait until the vengeful Driver arrives. If he has any chance of finishing what he started, Driver must use his strength and wits to outsmart the cop, Killer and Cicero.

"Faster" is a fast-paced action film that plays tribute to revenge films of the 1970s, but it also brings in some unique elements that are all its own. For instance, this film never once gives in to the action movie cliché of corny dialogue. In fact, there is very little dialogue at all on the part of the main protagonist, Driver. This allows the action sequences to speak for themselves without distracting viewers. Additionally, many of the characters are never given names in the movie, adding an air of mystery that allows the viewer to decide the true nature of each character. For instance, the hit man is only ever called "Killer" despite his plans for retirement and genuine love for his girlfriend, and the drug-addicted police officer is never given a name. He is only known as "Cop."

Although Dwayne Johnson's film credits include a number of family films prior to "Faster," such as "Tooth Fairy" and "Race to Witch Mountain," this film casts The Rock in a much more appropriate role, making use of his tough persona and acting talent to further the story. Johnson does not have many lines in this film, but his physical presence and cold facial expressions match the vengeful character perfectly. Billy Bob Thornton also gives a commendable performance as the sleazy, drug-addicted cop, creating a character who repulses characters while drawing them into his unique story.

This film does have a few setbacks, but they are not enough to detract from its engaging nature. Although the characters are given some depth with unique backstories and subplots, the main story is a fairly simplistic one, including only a few unexpected twists and thrills.

"Faster" is a throwback to classic action films of revenge and redemption, but it also features some unique elements and realistic characters. From its talented actors to its fast-paced plot and action sequences, this film is sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats from the first minutes of the movie to the time the closing credits roll.