Rated R for strong violence, some drug use and language, 95 minutes
Silly preposterous "Faster" is escapist, junky enterainment
The Oscar goes to…The Rock for “Faster”! You probably won’t hear those words this year, but the forgettable “Faster” is decent entertainment if you take it for what it’s worth: guilty-pleasure, junky entertainment and bloody fun taken in the right way. Some of it works, much of it doesn’t as it channels The Rock’s serious, darker side, but the preposterous “Faster” is a revenge flick that’s escapist entertainment at its best.
After 10 years in prison, Driver (Dwayne Johnson) has a singular focus—to avenge the murder of his brother during the botched ban robbery that led to his imprisonment. Now a free man with a deadly to-do list in hand, he's finally on his mission...but with two men on his trail—a veteran cop (Billy Bob Thornton) just days from retirement, and a young egocentric hitman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) with a flair for the art of killing and a newfound worthy opponent. The hunter is also the hunted. It's a do or die race to the finish as the mystery surrounding his brother's murder deepens, and new details emerge along the way hinting that Driver's list may be incomplete.
Taken as a serious film, “Faster” is a contrived, over-the-top mess. As low-brow junky entertainment it works far better if you don’t take it too seriously. Johnson is a better comic actor than a serious one, which is partly why “Faster” doesn’t work in addition to the rather uninspired direction from George Tillman Jr. (“Soulfood”).
Johnson lacks a range of emotion needed to carry this revenge movie off, especially paired against Thornton, playing his typically slimeball characters with great amusement as he chews on scenery. The final twist seemingly comes out of nowhere, but if you play close attention you’ll realize early on the connection that Thornton’s character has with Johnson’s. The car Johnson's car drives, a souped-up 1960s Chevy Chevelle, is by far the coolest thing about the movie.
“Faster” works best when it’s focused on Johnson’s singular mission to bring down everyone that had to do with the murder of his brother, after all this is a revenge flick. It’s when it incorporates the side story of the young rich hitman that it becomes too uneven, especially since you have to wait until the film’s final frames to find out truly why this guy is after Johnson too.
Bloody, silly, and utterly contrived, there are some good moments of violence and mayhem that will please audience looking for those things. “Faster,” much like its name, is quick and efficient, though it leaves a handful of things from its muddled story unanswered, making you wonder if he really got everyone on his list. If you need a quick escape from the turkey festivities this weekend, put “Faster” at the top of your list to see, though your food will be more memorable and flavorful than this.