Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.
Ex-con Jensen Ames is forced by the warden of a notorious prison to compete in our post-industrial world's most popular sport: a car race in which inmates must brutalize and kill one another on the road to victory.
A lone man, recently released from prison, seeks out the people from his past who he believes betrayed him. While he forces each to atone for their sins, he must also face what meting out vengeance will do to his immortal soul. Meanwhile, he's not the only one looking to settle old scores. Hired by the man responsible for the events which lead him to prison, an eccentric contract killer follows his every move. Scenes of them crossing paths, sometimes violently, are interspersed with the assassin's self-realizations of how to deal with struggles within his own life. As if old enemies & hired guns aren't enough, a young female detective begrudgingly works alongside a veteran investigator looking to simply survive his last two weeks on the force before retirement, as they seek out the brazen ex-con who has been blazing a path of gasoline-powered destruction in his vintage Chevelle. Written by
Driver (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) has just completed a dime in the slammer and is looking for revenge against those who not only put him there, but also killed his brother. With a hit list in hand he driver through the desert of Nevada in search of his targets while also being pursued by a contract killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and a veteran cop (Billy Bob Thornton).
The Rock isn't as strong an actor as he is built. Physically he's imposing, but much of the film leaves him short on spoken material. I'd call this a good call given that his most dramatic scenes aren't believable. Making up for his silence are the creatively named Cop and Killer who both explore relationships and contemplate the bookends of careers.
From a genre-free perspective Faster has the needed pieces to make for some compelling cinema. Unfortunate for the ticket buyer, a likely action connoisseur, Faster has very little action. Driver's checklist is a breeze; most of his prospective victims put up zero fight whatsoever. When the bad guys aren't even trying it's difficult for me to get excited. I've had tougher times finishing grocery lists.
Then there's the story involving Killer. Whatever stoic, forceful appeal Driver displays is contrasted by the arrogance of Killer. This is fine by most measures but Killer never lives up to the hype painted around him. It seems that the title comes from his exclamation that Driver is a faster draw with a pistol, but it would have been just as descriptive to call him inaccurate. This man of adventure is willing to concede that a getaway driver betters him with a gun; I'd rather not tell that to my concerned girlfriend if I were him. I never got the feeling of the game between the two and a highflying car stunt from the trailer, which was absent from the finished product, could hint at a more involving struggle between the characters.
Faster is directed by George Tillman Jr. with high energy. The general look of the film is a slightly more colorized, bleach bypass film look of many recent grungy movies. The editing is crisp and CGI use is limited to being tastefully unobtrusive. Jokes and gags are few in number but every once in a while one crops up to lighten the mood. Overall, very strong pacing with some well incorporated flashbacks and slow motion.
The lack of a classical showdown really hurts Faster, which otherwise measures up as one of the best action/revenge films of recent years. It's getting late in his career for Dwayne to be learning the ropes of what should be his bread and butter, but it's good to see him try.
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