Sure, some subplots and characters don't add up, but the action and story are enjoyable anyway. I frankly was surprised by the final twist, although it seemed preposterous and forced. I've read some of the criticism of this movie, and it may come down to this: which Dwayne Johnson do you prefer? Did you like The Tooth Fairy or Walking Tall/The Rundown more? How about Gridiron Gang, somewhere between the others? I think he performs admirably in the Stallone/Schwarzenegger mold. This is not Shakespeare but a more than decent action/revenge flick.
Indeed, here, characters are known only by the shorthand - Driver, Cop, Killer - which you would expect to find in an early script synopsis. And if you tally up the dialogue Driver (Johnson), as he goes from woe to whoa, you might be able to fill the back of a bar coaster.
But lean and mean is the point, as unusually cold-blooded anti-hero Driver blows away the assholes who killed his bank-robbing brother and sent him to jail. In between fights, there's much flexing of tattooed muscles, and fishtailing in a muscle car.
In the real world, such displays of machismo would surely tip off enemies to his plans and draw every nearby law enforcer. But no such logic slows Faster, as it ricochets through scenes, dragging Billy Bob Thornton and Carla Gugino along with its sheer velocity. Director George Tillman Jr. always keeps us interested in his sharply staged showdowns.
Doing the above was not what I fiugred I'd be doing, but this film had me surprised at times. It's actually quite well made, stylish, and actually has some cinematic qualities to it. Underneath the surface, there's actually something to all of it, keeping the film from being totally artless. This sounds weird, but in a way this seemed a bit like an art film to an extent.
The first half is really solid, and is what elevates things. The second half slips some, and starts to unravel, but not quite enough for things to completely fall apart. The film, in a contemporary way, had a very 70s or even noirish quality to it at times, which I why i feel compelled to give it some praise. There's nothing extremely original going on, but they are done competently.
I didnt like all the choices that were made. The script is a little weak, some stuff could have been a little better fleshed out, and a twist comes up that wasn't too surprising, but kind of worked, and right after, the film does something fairly dark and ballsy...but then a bit backs off with a reversal lessening the impact. That didn't kill it for me, but I feel like if you're gonna push some boundaries, you should commit and stick with it.
Billy Bob's hair is ridiculous, but the rest of his character's look is cool, and I like his performance. Johnson is also really good, and almost literally is the definition of "strong silent type". The Preacher character is also really good, and the way that character is handled is better than it needed to be/expected.
One nice touch I need to point out is a certain needle drop. "What Condition My Condition Was In", as soon as it came up, had my attention. I liked its usage, although it would have had far more impact had I not already experienced it's more inspired usage in The Big Lebowski. At least it hasn't become overplayed, though.
All in all, this is just a somewhat better than average revenge film, but it came close to being more than that. The title isn't very good, and rather misleading since this is actually more of a slow burner (that's a good thing), and some of this just needs some work, but I think Geore Tillman Jr. is a director of promise, and on a rainy day, you could watch a lot worse things than this.
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Summary: On the very day he's released from a 10-year prison sentence, convicted bank robber Driver (Dwayne Johnson) hits the streets to take revenge on the men who bungled the job that got him busted and his beloved brother killed. But close on Driver's tail are a driven cop (Billy Bob Thornton) on the one hand and a flamboyant contract killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) on the other.
My Thoughts: "I was looking forward to a good action flick, and although it brought the action, it lacked a good plot and had very little dialogue. It was a bit of a bore. The script needs some work. You can't depend on just the action. This action movie could have been so much better. I found Oliver Jackson-Cohen's character to be completely cheesy and useless. This has to be one of the laziest performance's I've seen Billy Bob Thornton give. He delivered poorly. Dwayne Johnson does put in a good, quiet, lethal performance, but I guess I just expected more from the film. The movie starts out strong but slowly dies out to a below average action flick. If you decide to pass on this one, I don't think you will be missing out on anything."
Faster could (and should) have been a fantastic action flick.
The story is simple. A man (Johnson) recently released from prison hunts down and kills some people from his past that are responsible for the death of someone close to him. Thorton and Gugino play two cops on his trail, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen plays a hired killer after Johnson's life, in an odd, throw-away subplot.
The assembled cast is great. Dwayne Johnson has all the charisma and physicality you could want from an action star. Then there's Billy Bob Thorton, who should shine in a movie like this. Carla Gugino could satisfy anyone's craving for mere eye candy, only she's a great actress, too. Jennifer Carpenter gets a brief role that will please Dexter fanboys (like me), Moon Bloodgood has a small part, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agabe from Lost pops in for a bit, as well. And Maggie Grace doesn't hurt, either, when you're looking to round out the cast with another (sexy) Lost alum.
So what's the problem? It's nothing but irony that a movie titled Faster could be so boring, at times. There are no real action scenes, other than a car chase or two. Most of the fights could be better described as "brief scuffles", and the shoot-outs are basically just Johnson standing at one end of a hallway, while another character stands at the other end, firing away.
I blame the director, George Tillman, Jr. He somehow manages to suck most of the inherent coolness out of the cast and premise. A quick look at his filmography is all it takes to figure out that an action movie like this was probably beyond his expertise. I mean, Roll Bounce? Really? It's great to see African American directors getting opportunities at big movies that aren't pigeon-holed as "black" movies, but Tillman mishandled this one.
Faster is another example of an outmatched director hobbling a movie that had nothing but potential.