Directed by George Tillman, Jr.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino, and Maggie Grace
Castle Rock Entertainment/CBS Films
Release date: November 24, 2010
The ads for Faster would lead you to believe that the film is a simple action movie with a revenge plot, a concept that has been used since the early days of cinema. However, Faster is a revenge plot with more twists and turns than a NASCAR race. Former WWE wrestler Dwayne Johnson plays the character known only as Driver. We see him being released from prison. During his “exit interview,” the warden shows pictures of wounded inmates that crossed his path. This sequence cleverly establishes Driver’s “badassery” and foreshadows the carnage to come. Driver and his brother pulled a bank robbery, but someone close to them set them up to be robbed by another group of criminals. Driver’s brother is murdered while he survives the robbery and goes to jail. While in prison, Driver has had people keeping tabs on the men involved in his brother’s killing. Almost immediately upon release, Driver begins exacting vengeance on these people. In the beginning, Driver is a remorseless killing machine, drawing the attention of Detective Cicero (Carla Gugino), who reluctantly teams up with Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) to track down Driver and end his killing spree.
The script and the performances in Faster separate this film from the recent crop of vengeance flicks at your local multiplex. Driver’s backstory is explored in detail, allowing us to see the events that influence his quest for revenge. Dwayne Johnson also does an excellent job of portraying Driver as a man who is emotionally scarred and sees his actions as the only way to gain inner peace. Billy Bob Thornton also delivers an excellent performance as Cop, a screw-up cop who once had a great reputation and still has pretty sharp skills. We also see Cop interact with his estranged wife (played by Moon Bloodgood) and his son. In addition to those two stories, the plot is enhanced even further by the involvement of an assassin (Killer) played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen. Killer is hired to eliminate Driver, but he also has a very interesting backstory that shapes his motivations and beliefs. In addition, Killer has a serious relationship with Lily (played by Maggie Grace) that causes him to question his motives. Writers Tony and Joe Gayton have managed to include excellent characterizations and believable characters without sacrificing any of the action.
Faster is an intellectual action film that takes the ages-old concepts of payback and redemption in different directions courtesy of an unpredictable plot, insane action sequences, and stellar performances. Dwayne Johnson’s return to the action genre is a welcome break from the standard “popcorn” action films that are all explosions and no plot. After a brief detour into Disney films, Johnson is kicking butt and taking names once again. Faster is simply better than a lot of action films being made these days and should still be enjoyable after repeat viewings.