Summary: A newly released convict (Dwayne Johnson) set’s out to avenge the murder of his brother. Ten years ago the brothers were engaged in a heist but were double-crossed by a mysterious gang immediately afterwards. Now a veteran drug addicted detective and an egocentric hit man are both tracking this man hell bent on revenge.
Plot (B+): To say that Johnson’s character is a man on a mission is a complete understatement. He is more like a man possessed by some unholy force and nothing is going to stop him until he kills everyone that screwed him and killed his brother. This is immediately visible during the opening scene as you see Johnson pace back and forth in his cell with intensity. It’s safe to say that Faster has some religious, both dark and light, undertones to the film. The plot itself is a straightforward revenge flick with a slight twist at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and looked forward to seeing it for some time. To clarify, only 2 or 3 people in this film are referred to by their actual names. Johnson’s character is simply referenced as “the Driver” since he was the driver during the heist with his brother. I thought this was very cool because it clearly states that this movie is not solely about the characters per se. It’s about revenge and when someone is bent on getting it nothing else really matters. There is a sub-plot, which centers on the egocentric hit man who is hired to kill Johnson’s character. While I understand the connection between the Killer and the Driver I felt they focused a bit much on the Killer’s personal life.
Action (A): I was very happy to see Johnson back in the action genre saddle because it fits him perfectly. He took a break from starring in action films but this was a great comeback. Most of the action scenes are either gunfights or just watching Johnson blow someone’s head clean off. Lastly, the film had several cool driving action sequences, which kept the movie flowing at a faster pace.
Acting & Dialogue (B+): Dwayne Johnson is a good actor and I don’t give a shit what people say. His transition from wrestling to acting was extremely smooth and natural even if that was years ago. Although, Johnson’s character doesn’t not speak much his body language says EVERYTHING. He walks with a purpose. When he confronts each new target his posture is stiff but it gives the notion that he’s ready to attack then and there. Most of all, his eyes are filled with an intense fiery rage which strikes fear into the hearts of his victims (Note: I’ve seen this look before from his wrestling days and it worked perfectly). This rage has been festering for ten years and it gives audiences the inclination that he is no longer human but more of a dark super natural force. Essentially, he is the bringer of death. Billy Bob Thornton plays the veteran Cop who’s days away from retirement but wants on this case for his own reasons. Thornton was particularly good in this role and played his character much like Robert De Niro played the obsessed psychopath Gil Renard in The Fan. Thornton’s Cop is smart but he can’t catch a break with his estranged wife, their cubby son, his job, and in life.
Sex Appeal (6.5): Maggie Grace (the whinny and stupid daughter from Taken) is stunningly beautiful in this film. She walks around in lingerie and is practically flawless. (Sidebar, I saw her in a flea market in Santa Monica last summer. I was going to “accidently” step on the back of her heel and pretend that it was accident so I could talk to her, however, I sadly chickened out.)
Director (B+): George Tillman Jr. created a fine piece of work and I would say that this is one of his best. The other film being Men of Honor, which starred Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. Tillman also directed Notorious (the Notorious B.I.G movie), Soul Food, and Scenes for the Soul. Tillman’s ability to keep the pace moving and not focusing on one particular thing for too long was executed with great precision. As I said above, Johnson did everything at lightening speed and that was a great metaphor for the entire film. Tillman’s ability to focus in on that really won me over.