Star cast: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen.
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Plot: Dwayne Johnson, released from prison after a 10-year sentence, goes on a killing spree, eliminating unknown people who had murdered his brother. One of his brother’s murderers hires a Killer, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, to snuff Johnson. A drug-addict cop, Billy Bob Thornton, is also after Johnson.
What’s Good: The cool cars and guns.
What’s Bad: The clichéd and contrived story; Dwayne Johnson’s poker-faced performance; and the film’s ridiculous climax.
Verdict: The Faster you run away from it, the better!
Loo Break: Several, especially during the numerous flashbacks.
Faster is the story of a con man, Driver’s (Dwayne Johnson) revenge for his brother’s murder. The film begins with the hardened and hefty Driver getting out of prison after a 10-year sentence for his involvement in a bank robbery. As soon as he is a free man, he obtains a list of targets from an informant (Mike Epps) and gets to work, i.e. killing them.
Driver shoots his first victim, a bank teller, in broad daylight. The murder is recorded on the bank’s CCTV camera and Driver’s face is splashed on the television. Nevertheless, Driver continues his cross-country killing spree with alacrity. He has his fast car, a Chevelle, and a gun as companions. In the meanwhile, a cop (Billy Bob Thornton) is assigned to the Driver case. The cop – a divorcee and a heroin-addict – is desperate to track down Driver since it is his last case before retirement. The cop’s partner on the case, Officer Cicero (Carla Gugino), doubts his ability but helps him nevertheless. Also, somewhere else, a super-assassin, referred to as the Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), is hired by an unknown person to track down and murder Driver. Killer, a former cripple and child prodigy, who made millions as a software expert, works as a hitman just for the kick of it. He is craving for a challenge since long and jumps on the Driver case job. His hot girlfriend, Lily (Maggie Grace), supports his choice of profession and even hands him the guns. As fate would have it, Driver proves too hard a bullet for Killer to bite. Although Killer gets into a couple of gun-fights with Driver, he loses badly. He gets back home and marries Lily but cannot forget his defeat at Driver’s hands.
Later, when Driver knives his third target inside a strip-bar and the target survives, the cop hides inside the hospital, waiting for Driver. Driver comes to the hospital to finish off the job, where he and the cop have a gun battle. The cop also accepts defeat and bends down in front of Driver, expecting to be shot at. But Driver lets him live. Through various flashbacks, we are told that Driver is a nice guy, who is tracking down and killing all the people who were involved in the murder of his brother (Matt Gerald), right after their bank robbery 10 years ago. Now, Driver vows to not stop till he snuffs out all of them. Will the Driver exact his revenge? Or will the cop and Killer get him first?
Story and Screenplay
Despite the promise of high-octane action, writers Tony Gayton and Joe Gayton’s story and screenplay have no novelty. The story is one that you have seen on screen many times. Be that as it may, the writers also miserably fail to bring out the tension between the three protagonists, Driver, the cop and Killer. All of them come across as essentially negative characters, thus creating no friction. In fact, the manner in which the screenplay brings out the real reason behind Driver’s killing spree (through flashbacks) is also predictable. The characterisations are also not upto the mark – Killer is supposed to be a rich guy who kills for fun (for the fee of one dollar, in fact) and loves a challenge. But when he fails to catch Driver, he scampers back to his girlfriend and marries her instead. In fact, even Driver, who is a killing machine, has a change of heart, when he lets one of his targets live.
Even if one ignores these flaws, one just cannot overlook the ridiculous and contrived climax of the film, where the three protagonists are brought together in stand-off, with each holding a gun to the other’s head. What happens thereafter is simply unconvincing. The dialogues are just about okay. Driver speaks too little and Killer, too much.
Just like the film’s story, the performances of the actors are nothing to write home about. Dwayne (Rock) Johnson (as Driver) looks and acts macho, but does a poker-faced act throughout the movie. He is good in the action scenes, though. Billy Bob Thornton, who is an excellent actor otherwise, is wasted in the role of the cop. Oliver Jackson-Cohen overacts as Killer. Moon Bloodgood, as Marina, the cop’s wife, is okay. Maggie Grace, as Lily, the girlfriend of Killer, looks hot. Carla Gugino (in the role of Officer Cicero), Mike Epps (as Roy Grone), Jennifer Carpenter (as the ex-girlfriend of Driver’s brother, Gary) do fair jobs.
Director George Tillman Jr. has picked up a story that could have been a befitting tribute to the ’70s noir genre, but he falters in his handling of the screenplay and his actors. He should have tweaked the screenplay to suit the tastes of today’s audiences rather than serving the story in a linear format. Besides, the action sequences could have been filmed in an innovative manner, giving the film an edge. All said and done, it is the age-old script and the wasted performances that pull the film down.
Technically, the film is sound. Music by Clint Mansell goes with the mood of the film but gets too loud and jarring at times. Cinematography by Michael Grady could have been better. The film’s editor, Dirk Westervelt, could have done away with some of the boring scenes, when Driver does mundane things, such as meeting his relatives.
All in all, in spite of a potentially stellar star cast, Faster fails to deliver the goods. Thumbs down! The film is expected to do poor at the Indian box-office.