Faster
Go ahead. Tell me what I’m cooking.


Theatrical Release Date: 11/24/2010
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Maggie Grace, Moon Bloodgood, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jennifer Carpenter, Mike Epps, Tom Berenger


Trailer:

Behind one of these doors is the architect.

The Rock is angry. You wouldn’t like The Rock when he’s angry.

That’s essentially the premise of “Faster”. Oh sure, he’s angry because his brother was killed in a double cross of a bank heist the pair pulled off but I’m reading between the lines.

The film follows Driver (Dwayne Johnson) as he exacts revenge on those responsible. Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) is hot on his heels but so is Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who’s been hired to stop Driver before he gets to the mastermind of the hit.

And before you go on thinking Driver, Cop and Killer are the character’s names, that’s just what the audience is told via on-screen titles when they’re introduced. They actually have names but this little quirk was just another cinematic element meant to increase the cool factor but sadly felt like a cheap ripoff of better revenge films.

The director, George Tillman Jr., and the writers apparently love this genre (maybe a little too much) because the entire picture feels like they all watched a marathon of the genre, wrote the script and shot the film without ever stopping to sleep.

Worse still is the manner in which Tillman shot the film. Apparently, all of his long camera lenses were stolen and their cameras ran on the body heat of its actors because it seemed like 90% of the movie is shot in tight close-ups, or with one character’s head filling a third to half of the screen. As this was distributed by CBS Films, I wonder if it was actually made for the home market because sitting in the theater I developed a headache from my brain screaming at me to not sit so close to the TV. It’s the same reaction I have trying to hold my phone too close while watching YouTube videos for an extended period of time.

I do appreciate that the action starts pretty quickly and we see from the get-go that Driver (I refuse to care what their real names are) means business – quickly unloading his gun into the subjects of his rage. That said, there was an opportunity to truly make his character as iconic as the trumped up faux-names would have us believe they are but as the film winds towards its conclusion, he grows a conscience. That’s the image people have of The Rock and going against that perception would have served to elevate the film from just another revenge caper to something more, but then again, I appear to be hoping for too much this holiday season.

The story plays out like it was made via paint by numbers. A supposed twist is so ridiculously foreshadowed it only served to ensure a facepalm moment when I heard someone nearby in the theater marvel at the “shocking” revelation of the real villain. And the subplot of Killer did give me some sexy Maggie Grace screen time but her involvement only served to highlight the multiple opportunities this project had to exploit and revel in a B-movie nature but failed to do so, in favor of staying with the tried and true cliché formula.

I know I’ve been bagging on this film for a while, and it deserves all of it (and probably some more). However, I still found myself rooting for Driver as he methodically eliminated those who had wronged him and chuckling at a number of moments – sometimes because they were actually meant to be funny.

There’s a logjam of films this holiday weekend but if teenage wizards, a trapped James Franco, animated princesses, or over the hill singers aren’t your cup of tea, then I get why you want to see The Rock return to action and kill a bunch of bad guys while avoiding your family as much as possible (Just remember to sit as far back in the theater as possible).

A 2.5 out of 5, “Faster” had some greater potential and isn’t going to be remembered for much longer than the next week or so. But it does return The Rock from his extended vacation in family-friendly film town so I can rejoice in that. Now if you excuse me, I need to find my bottle of NSAID’s thanks to Tillman Jr.s close-up camera work.

2.5 out of 5