Starring: Dwayne Johnson (The Fast and the Furious 5, The Other Guys), Tom Berenger (Inception, Silent Venom), Carla Gugino (Race to Witch Mountain, Watchmen), Micaela Johnson (Transformers 3, Greek), Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter, Quarantine), Billy Bob Thornton, Moon Bloodgood and Maggie Grace (Knight and Day).
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The movie’s straightforward plot follows main character James Cullen (played by Johnson), who spent the past 10 years in prison for his part in a botched bank robbery with his brother. James, who is simply referred to as Driver, as he drove the getaway car, is determined to get revenge on the group of men who attacked him and killed his brother after the heist for their cut of the money. After learning how to protect himself against violent attacks in prison, Driver complies a list of the men’s addresses and goes after them one-by-one to seek his revenge.
Meanwhile, Slade Humphries (portrayed by Thorton), a veteran police officer who’s also known simply as Cop, is just days away from retiring. He takes on the challenge of trying to catch Driver as his last case. But Cop isn’t the only one chasing Driver; Killer (played by Jackson-Cohen), a self-made millionaire-businessman who works as a hit man on the side just for the fun of it, also accepts the task of hunting Driver down as his last job.
‘Faster’ definitely offers a refreshing revival of Johnson’s action film career, as his last major role in an action movie was 2004’s ‘Walking Tall.’ Since then, the former professional wrestler has primarily appeared in comedies and family movies, including ‘The Game Plan,’ ‘Race to Witch Mountain’ and ‘Tooth Fairy.’ But ‘Faster’ proves that action is Johnson’s forte, as he can use his experience in the WWE to help him better perform his stints. For example, as Driver is making his getaway in his car after killing one of the men who murdered his brother, Killer chases after him. Johnson seems fearless swerving around other cars and trucks to get away from his pursuer.
However, screenwriters Tony and Joe Gayton could have provided Johnson and the other actors with more developed back-stories. While the script had more than enough plot points to provide audiences with an action-packed and detail-oriented storyline, there wasn’t enough character development to keep audiences fully entertained. The lack of emotion and back-stories for the characters was definitely disappointing, as the plot heavily followed Driver, Cop and Killer equally.
While many action films rely more heavily on their stunts than on their characters, ‘Faster’ had the potential to offer a balanced mix of both. Director George Tillman, Jr. should have cut down on the number of Driver’s kills to provide a more even balance between the drama and action. For example, Driver tracks down the woman he was romantically involved with (portrayed by Jennifer Carpenter) before he was sent to prison. While she had two children since he was sent to jail, she and Driver still had unresolved feelings for each other. Tillman, Jr. had the opportunity to prove that Driver had another redeeming quality besides wanting to stand up for his brother; the director could have shown that his main character wanted to protect someone outside of his family.
Overall, Tillman, Jr. deserves credit for making the leap from directing straight-forward dramas (he previously helmed such films as ‘Notorious’ and ‘Men of Honor) to an action film. Rated R for strong violence, some drug use and language, the director makes a compelling action debut with ‘Faster,’ as it shows the extreme measures people will take to take revenge out on those who wronged them. While most people don’t have police conspiracies and hit men following them, Johnson was the true driving force behind the film. Not only did he show anger against Driver’s attackers and his brother’s murderers, as he went to jail and they didn’t, he also showed resilience in being able to wait 10 years to take his revenge.