Faster

1 Dec

Title: Faster
Year:
2010
Director:
George Tillman Jr.
Writers:
Tony Gayton and Joe Gayton
Starring:
Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino, Moon Bloodgood, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Maggie Grace, Tom Berenger
MPAA Rating:
R, strong violence, some drug use and language
Runtime:
95 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
7.5
Rotten Tomatoes:
42%

 

I guess if there’s one reason we should like Faster for, is that it marked the return of Dwayne Johnson to action flicks. The guy started out as the sort of guy that could kick some serious ass, becoming a headlining star of the WWE as The Rock, and then making the transition to film in The Mummy Returns and a year after that in the spin-off from that film that focused on his character, The Scorpion King. After that came the funnier but still action-y The Rundown and then the unfortunate adaptation of the Doom video-game. But after that he has only been in more family-oriented films like The Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain or this year’s really crappy The Tooth Fairy. Faster is nowhere near a great film, but at least it’s a return to the genre he became known for, and I welcomed that.

Faster comes from CBS Films, a company that released it’s first three films this year. Their debut was Extraordinary Measures, which I rated a D+, then came The Back-Up Plan, which I gave a C- to, and now this one, which is clearly the better of the trio, but still not a very commendable film. They have The Mechanic and Beastly already slated for the first quarter of 2011, so we’ll see if any of those can become their first hit, both critically and commercially.

Though to be honest, Faster isn’t a bad film, not at all, and that’s because of Mr. Johnson, who’s a cool guy and has what it takes to carry a sort of film like this, and if you get the right guy to star then that’s half the battle for these sort of films. Unfortunately for Faster, though, the other half of the battle was lost by a considerable margin.

The plot is dumb enough, Mr. Johnson’s character, who’s this sort of indestructible guy known as Driver, because he can obviously drive cars in weird ways and dangerous situations, has just been released from prison and is on a revenge trip to avenge his brother’s death, who was killed as they were double-crossed on the bank heist that landed him in prison.

However, as they say, the hunter becomes the haunted, because he also has people on his own ass. One’s a cop on the verge of retirement, played by Billy Bob Thornton who’s also always sort of bad ass. And the other is a hitman, who just pretty much loves killing people and reckons Driver is a worthy mark.

The violence in Faster, I must admit, is pretty nifty at times, you don’t get any light action scenes, they’re all pretty badass and you can tell the R rating is there for a reason, because they really make the most of it, because when they get down and dirty it looks pretty badass. And, again, it’s a most welcome return from Mr. Johnson to the world of movies in which he doesn’t need to act so much as he needs to walk around looking intimidating while kicking ass and taking names, which he manages to do pretty convincingly.

Because that’s really all Faster has going for it, some fast thrills seen from a variety of camera angles featuring a bulky star. Because the plot is pretty sloppy, and for the type of audience that just wants action and doesn’t care for dialogue of structure of plot it will probably work, because we have lots of people being shot while silly lines are being uttered following a dumb premise.

Dwayne Johnson is 38 years-old, and I really wanted him to make a comeback to action films. He’s not horrible in the kid-oriented flicks, mostly because he has that good deal of good ol’ charisma, but with the size he has and the attitude he can evoke it’d be a pity if he limited himself to those types of films.

And it seems like he’s balancing his two acts for the future. According to his IMDb page he has three projects lined up for next year, in April he’s the new member in the Fast & Furious franchise as he joins the gang for Fast Five, then come September he’s replacing Brendan Fraser in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, the sequel to 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, and he’s also set to join Chuck Russell, his director in The Scorpion King, in his return to the director’s chair in Arabian Nights alongside Anthony Hopkins and Liam Hemsworth. And I think that’s the way it should be, because this is a guy who can be successful in both these types of films.

The action sequences are fun here, the actors all try to make something of their material, though to no avail. And Faster ends up indeed being a fast movie, but mostly because it doesn’t stop to add any bit of substance to its formula. It is, however, CBS Films’ best film yet, which doesn’t mean much, but at least it’s an improvement.

Grade: C+

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