Review in a Hurry: Dwayne Johnson is back in action! But so are a lot of dated story tropes—and that's OK! Until it isn't. We're pleased as punch to see The Rock in kick-butt mode in this revenge flick, too bad an unnecessary major character and some silly last-act twists and turns almost ruin the fun.
The Bigger Picture: After a decade in the clink, the man known only as Driver (Johnson) quickly acquires a classic black Chevelle, a hit list and a very big gun. Driven by revenge at the loss of his brother from a bank heist gone wrong, Driver aims to take out everyone involved. This gets the attention of Cop (Billy Bob Thornton), and the race is on!
Director George Tillman, Jr. (Notorious) keeps things moving at a quick pace. Everything in this picture is toned and muscular: the actors, the cars, those big guns. For half of the film's 90 minutes this refreshingly simple approach is as effective as a movie with characters named Driver and Cop should be.
But the script by Tony and Joe Gayton starts to get needlessly convoluted in the second half. We're introduced to Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who's been hired to put Driver in park, permanently. Meanwhile, Killer's got a hot girlfriend (Lost's Maggie Grace) who he wants to settle down with, and this is his last big score. So a straight-forward story between Driver and Cop is suddenly saddled with an annoying third wheel. From there, things get contrived and a bit dull.
Billy Bob has fun playing a drugged-up police officer that always seem one step ahead of everyone else. There's a reason for that—which we won't spoil—and it's pretty lame one.
Fans of Johnson still might want to check this out since it never gets old to see him hit hard and fast. He doesn't speak a lot (he's only gets chatty in his kiddie flicks), but that's fine. He can stare down with the best of them.
For a film so testosterone-heavy, Faster has a strong female cast also including Carla Gugino as Thornton's partner, Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) and Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation).
The 180—a Second Opinion: A scene where Driver confronts the Preacher (another Lost alum, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) hints at a more layered story. Seeing Dwayne be fast and furious is fun, but this confrontation poses questions that the film seems interested in exploring—if only for one scene.