After recent stints in comedies and Disney movies, Dwayne Johnson is back in action with Faster. He plays a man known only as ‘Driver’, who is released from prison after 10 years. The warden (Tom Berenger) sends him on his way and he runs from the prison looking focused, determined and in a hurry. This is a man on a mission. He gets a fast car, a gun and a list of names and addresses. Then he storms into a busy office building and does something that is sure to earn him a ticket straight back to jail: shoots a man in front of his colleagues and a CCTV camera.
It turns out that Driver was the getaway driver in a bank robbery led by his brother. He made an impressive and clean getaway but they were ambushed by another crew, who murdered his brother and left him for dead. Now he’s gunning for revenge, hunting down the men involved and killing them. The only trouble is one of the men has hired a hitman to take Driver out before he can kill him and there are cops on the case too. As the hunter becomes the hunted, he must get through his hit list before he is caught or killed. There are men hot on his trail, his face is all over the TV and it’s possible that there’s a name missing from his list…
Faster effectively switches focus between the three main characters involved: Driver, Cop and Killer. It shows their different perspectives and gives the audience an insight into their lives and motivations. The Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) is a washed up man with a drug habit and a tough home life. He is only a few days away from retirement and teams up with a no-nonsense, by-the-book female (Carla Gugino) to solve the case.
Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is an unstable, egocentric playboy-type who lives in a big house with his girlfriend (Maggie Grace), gadgets, weaponry and sports cars. He talks to his therapist on the phone, who warns him about being off his meds. He likes to accomplish difficult feats and then move on to the next big test of his skill. In his first scene he claims to have “beaten” yoga. He kills people for the challenge rather than for the money and believes he has finally found a worthy opponent in Driver.
Driver is determined and single-minded in his quest for vengeance. His 10 years in prison haven’t quelled his anguish and rage and he is driven by a relentless need to avenge his brother’s death. He hunts down the men responsible with a blatant disregard for all of the attention he is attracting as he goes about his business.
Faster is directed by George Tillman, Jr. (Notorious, Men of Honor, Soul Food) from a screenplay written by brothers Tony and Joe Gayton. It is well directed and edited and has a strong supporting cast, especially Thornton. With an interesting premise and some good action scenes and performances, the film would have benefitted from more story development and pace but is an enjoyable vengeance thriller. Dwayne Johnson is much better suited to the action genre than comedy as he can play the tough guy and be a man of few words, which works very well for him here.