31 March 2011
The plot itself does little to dispel any expectations you might have going in. Dwayne Johnson plays Driver, a man who gets out of prison for good behaviour and promptly goes on a killing spree. Driver wants revenge on the men who ambushed and murdered his brother's gang a decade earlier, and he'll stop at nothing, not even the best efforts of the cop or the contract killer who have each separately been tasked with stopping him.
Everything about it seems to scream that it's a big, loud and audacious action film along the lines of Drive Angry, from the title, and the casting of Johnson, to the naming of all the characters for their most obvious trait, like Driver, or Cop, or Killer, or Evangelist, or Woman. No, really- a woman in this film is credited as Woman, despite actually having a name in the context of the story.
If Driver isn't carrying a gun, his hands are occupied wringing over the various moral and ethical implications of his rampage. It's a film that's more self-conscious than self-aware, and the internal discussion of Driver's actions falls apart with the general sort of hypocrisy that winds up being a staple of any full-blooded revenge film. Violence is bad, but some bad violence is good if you do the good violence to bad people. And "vengeance is faster" apparently.
You can argue that family fare, like The Tooth Fairy and Race to Witch Mountain, has been holding Dwayne Johnson back from becoming the big action hero that he's clearly capable of being. Coming back around to action in both this and the upcoming Fifth Fast and the Furious Film For Which I Don't Know The Fucking Title, Johnson isn't exactly challenged. There's more time for tearful contemplation that there has been in any of his other films, but it carries no weight when we're so separate from Driver.
The rest of the cast is generally rather good, with Billy Bob Thornton's tortured and drug-addled Cop making a nice counter-point to Carla Gugino as his frustrated colleague, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje showing up at a pivotal point in the film to give Johnson a final obstacle. The major bum note is the casting of Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Killer, a role that Clive Owen might have got if he were shit. The character is precocious, and the acting is not much better.
Faster is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Faster, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.