Following his run of family-friendly films, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was clearly keen to get back to more adult, muscle-flexing fair. Enter Faster, a throwback to the pulp action thrillers of the 1970s directed by George Tillman Jr. and co-starring Billy Bob Thornton and Maggie Grace.
Recently released from jail, Driver (The Rock) is out for revenge on the crew that murdered his brother and left him for dead and taking the rap for a burglary. After finding his car and beginning his search, he is chased by a the hired assassin, Killer (Jackson-Cohen) who has promised his girlfriend Lily (Maggie Grace) that this will be his last job. Meanwhile former drug-addicted police officer, simply known as Cop (Thornton) joins the hunt, hoping to reclaim some respect lost after years of drug abuse. As the bodies start to pile up the two men chasing get closer to Driver as he gets closer to completing his list.
Faster, like a lot of grimy revenge thrillers from the 70s has very few named characters. They are instead simply referred to by their key job title whether that’s Driver, Cop, Killer or Uniform. In this way they become ciphers rather than representations of actual people, each fulfilling their role within the predetermined narrative structure of a revenge thriller. It is odd then, when so much time is devoted to fleshing out characters, notably Killer and Cop, who are given a little bit more detail than is absolutely necessary. Especially when the centrepiece, Driver, is simply a one-liner dispensing walking muscular killer. Still it’s a role that The Rock can handle in his sleep and Billy Bob Thornton brings just enough world-weary desperation to his role to keep them interesting.
The narrative, structured and predictable as it is, actually disappoints when it comes to action, with each scene quick to finish leaving Faster lacking in memorably punch. Consider the fun had with Fast 5, and it highlights what a missed opportunity it is to have The Rock in a film and make the fighting and gun-play so pedestrian. The direction has some very neat moments int he early act, while the resolution is suitably twisty and turny to keep you entertained, but considering the talent on display Faster must be considered a bit of a wasted opportunity, even if it mildly entertains. On the plus side it’s nice to see The Rock back in the more adult-orientated action genre, even if it’s not his best work.