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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 17.65%
Just Average70.59%
Pretty Crappy: 11.76%
Sucks: 0%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"Execution, style."
3 stars

I wonder if "Faster" had a different name at some point, or evolved into something else from its original conception. With that title, and a character identified mainly as "Driver", you'd think it would be all about the high-speed chase. Instead, it's a terse, methodical movie, a flawed but intriguing opera of revenge.

A former getaway driver (Dwayne Johnson) is just being released from prison after ten years. He's stoically taken everything the other prisoners have dished out. Nobody meets him at the gate, so he starts walking. A car awaits him at a nearby junkyard, and the glove compartment contains a name, an address, and a revolver. Not caring who sees him, the driver puts a bullet in a telemarketer's head, then goes to get a list. A hungover cop (Billy Bob Thornton) a couple weeks away from retirement catches the case, and he and his partner (Carla Gugino) aren't the only ones on the driver's trail - a hit man (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) has been hired to take him out before he reaches the end of the list.

Faster seems like it should have been a race, with the Driver, the Cop, and the Killer speeding from one target to the next, ramming each other off the road and firing guns at each other's speeding cars. There's actually not a whole lot of vehicular action at all, and most of it takes place during a flashback to the heist that originally landed Driver in jail. What we see is fairly impressive stunt driving, and both Driver's '70s Chevelle and Killer's late-model Porsche are fine reflections of their personalities, but those going for non-stop action will be disappointed. There's only one real shootout, which comes early. Most of the kills are efficient.

Not cold, though, and that's what makes the movie kind of interesting. The three main characters are struggling less against each other than themselves. All have set goals for themselves that can eventually lead, if not to their destruction, than to the corrosion of their souls, and it's stubborn pride that keeps them locked onto their paths. Brothers Tony & Joe Gayton have set up a situation where the characters are set to pursue each other down the drain, and director George Tillman Jr. does well in establishing the right tone for it - just the slightest bit of exaggeration to the situation, but not building it up as larger than life. This is a tight, constrained story, but there's a grandeur to it that makes up for the lack of set pieces.

And give credit where it's due - you don't have that without Dwayne Johnson. Don't focus on the sheer number of bad choices he's made in his career, or the relatively small number of lines he has in this movie - watch his face as the film goes on. The intimidating hard shell that prison has built cracks, and Johnson sells the increasing anguish over the mission that Driver has set for himself. Billy Bob Thornton is similarly engaging as the cop pursuing him - he's a screw-up and a has-been, making a sort of half-hearted effort at being a better man and occasionally giving us glimpses of what he once was and could be. Oliver Jackson-Cohen's Killer almost seems garish in comparison to the others, almost jokingly self-aware, a simple cartoon next to their tragic figures.

It's the way Jackson-Cohen's Killer doesn't fit that winds up hobbling the movie. We're given his whole story up front, and while his flashiness makes for a bit of contrast to the likes of Driver, Cop, and the other in their orbit, he doesn't get more interesting as the film goes on the way that the others do, and a scene of him deciding to finish this job over the objections of his girlfriend Lily (Maggie Grace) is a quite obnoxious false move on the script's part - she'd been gung-ho just a few minutes earlier. As we learn more about the other characters (and even the targets and supporting characters tend to make themselves interesting quickly), he seems boring and unnecessary, even if he originally was set up as Driver's perfect opposite.

Give "Faster" props for shooting higher than dumb action movie; there's ambition here and even some good work in living up to it. You can see every bit of the end coming a mile away, but there's some skill and style involved in getting there.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19253&reviewer=371
originally posted: 11/27/10 12:39:13
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User Comments

5/23/13 Jeff Wilder Better than average action. Rock and Thornton work well. 4 stars
1/24/13 bored mom It'd be nice to see The Rock in more films like this (and hopefully even better ones too). 4 stars
6/10/11 mr.mike Damn good action flick , not predictable. 4 stars
1/23/11 bill norris when you figure out the ending from the previews & flashback seq, who needs to go? 2 stars
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  24-Nov-2010 (R)
  DVD: 01-Mar-2011


  DVD: 01-Mar-2011

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