Reviewer: Edwin Botelho
“Faster” is what we fans of “The Rock” have been waiting for. Dwayne “Don’t Call Me The Rock” Johnson is back and for the first time in years it’s not for a Disney family film. He plays Driver, an ex-con with a hit-list, a muscle car, and a gun. He’s just being released from prison after serving ten years for a bank heist where his role was driving the getaway car. After the bank heist goes according to plan they retreat to their safe house where they’ve been set up by someone they trusted which leads to the movies main storyline. Driver’s brother is murdered in front of him and he vows vengeance on all parties involved. But, is the movie worth your money?
While fans of The Rock might be happy to see him return to action films and not making “The Tooth Fairy 2”, The Rock isn’t given much to work with in this film. It’s far from being as good as his break-out role in “The Rundown”. He doesn’t have many lines in the film, but if you count looking mean and grunting then this is a masterpiece. It’s a shame too because Dwayne Johnson has so much charisma that almost having him remain silent for the duration of the film seems like a waste. Granted he’s seeking revenge for something that’s been boiling inside of him for ten years, but to not as much utter a word when he’s finally looking down on the man that caused all of this just seemed lazy. Also, as far as action goes Driver is a shoot first and never ask questions later kind of guy so when it comes down to bare knuckling brawling, another thing that made “The Rundown” so good is missing here as well. We get one scene where Driver gets into an altercation with one of the many names on his hit list, but other than that there’s not much action. We do get a decent car chase scene in form of a flashback to the day of the bank heist. But for an R-rated action film it doesn’t leave a lot to be desired and you’ll be thinking of so many things they could have done differently.
We round up the main characters with Cop (Billy Bob Thorton), and Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Killer is a software developer who has turned to a life of being a hit-man for sport. While Cohen works well in the role of “Killer” I couldn’t help but wonder what his real purpose in this film was. We already have our villains and Killer just seemed out of place here. Not until the end do you realize his sole purpose is to distract the audience from the big reveal as to who hired him and who wants Driver dead so badly. Killer does deliver a pretty cheesy line while talking to his girlfriend on the phone about Driver. She asks if Driver is as fast as Killer, and Killer responds “HE’S FASTER!”…isn’t that the name of this movie? Very clever. Honestly the movie would have worked just fine without this character ever stepping into a scene as he took away from the main storyline more than he added to it and the pay off with his character at the end just didn’t cut it for me.
Billy Bob Thorton’s character “Cop” is about as clichéd as they come. He’s a drug addict, he’s ten days from retirement and he has a broken marriage with a kid he doesn’t have time for. Thorton is good in the role though for what it’s worth and it helps that he looks like he could very well be a drug addict. Cop teams up with Cicero (Carla Gugino) to try and bring Driver down as he starts taking out everyone that was involved in the murder of his brother. You might remember Carla Gugino from another Dwayne Johnson film called “Race To Witch Mountain”. Here she plays the cop assigned to Driver’s case and Cop forces himself into this case for his own reasons. Gugino and Johnson share no screen time in this one and it’s a shame really because I felt they had very good chemistry in “Race to Witch Mountain”.
So while we’ve been waiting for Mickey Mouse to take his death grip off of Dwayne Johnson and let him make films like this again hopefully more people turn out to see this. Maybe then we can start calling him “The Rock” again and we won’t have to worry about “The Game Plan 2” in the near future. A few years ago people compared Dwayne Johnson to Arnold Schwarzenegger (Arnold even showed up in “The Rundown” to signify the passing of the torch) and while “Faster” might not be the film that puts that idea back into people’s minds hopefully it’s the starting point to something more. I was going to give this 2.5 stars out of 5, but deep down I still smell what the Rock is cooking and that in itself is worth a star.