What is it all about?
An ex-con sets out to avenge a terrible incident of his past in a rage of fury five day span, but while he drives around hell-bent on revenge, he’s tracked by a veteran cop and an egocentric hit man.
The Hughes Verdict
Its been a good year for the actor formally known as The Rock.
For regular readers of HCF they will recall my review of Fast Five a few months back and I called it the best action film of the year. The glorious fifth chapter of the long running Fast and Furious films stunned all fans with its high octane action and its need to thrill, recalling the glorious years of the nineties when action films were all rage.
The film also benefited from a toned up Dwayne Johnson going head to head with Vin Diesel, a mouth watering scene that had the two stars trying their best to outdo each other in muscle size. For Johnson himself it was a great return to the genre that he had recently avoided. Why for the life of me do these action stars want to move away from the genre that serves them well baffles me and its probably all rooted to the day when Arnold became a Kindergarten Cop because since then, all of them try to do a comedy.
Johnson has been guilty over the years what with films like The Game Plan, The Tooth Fairy all under his belt, so its great to see him back where he belongs but while Fast Five was all about the old faces and teamwork, Faster is a showcase of his massive talent. Its dark, gritty and carries a bite that will hurt you through out the watch.
We start with blast, a real good opening sequence of Driver (Johnson) getting released from prison. Before he leaves though he gets talked to by the warden (a cameo performance by Tom Berenger) who warns him to behave himself, a chat that goes right over the head of Driver who can not wait to get out of the office which is told through the way his eyes keep on looking at the clock up on the wall! After good old Tom tries his best, Driver is gone, running while the titles play. He then gets in a car which has been kept under wraps and he drives off, to a nearby office where he walks in and shoots dead a worker right in the forehead. Its safe to say that Faster starts living up to its title and the film continues in this trend!
Driver is intent on driving around town to kill some selected people, who and for what reason I will not spoil here, but while he is making up for the past ten years being in jail, there are two cops on his trail and a hired assassin, which shows that Driver’s plan maybe not straight forward as it sounds. Billy Bob Thornton a grizzly tired seen it all before ex drug addict trying to mend his ways cop who is called Cop, who believes if he turns over a new leaf may save his relationship with his wife Marina (Moon Bloodgood) and his son who feels neglected by his father’s ways.
The next angle comes in the simple form of a man called “Killer” (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a billionaire computer programmer-turned-assassin for hire who is thinking of giving up his life style and marry his girlfriend Lilly (Maggie Grace), of course this point of the plot has nothing to do with the overall theme of the film, its just an add on to stretch the running time.
Faster is brilliant when its all about Driver. The needless back stories are a distraction when all us action fans want to see good old Dwayne flex his muscles, and that he does really well. Its not quite on par with the simple brilliant pleasure of Walking Tall but when Johnson is angry there is no one better around in the genre even though the film does not peak to its required potential.
The main problem is that there is no sense of build up or suspense so us the viewer can get soaked into the mayhem of the world Driver is creating. The story starts in such a high tempo that the film tries its best to keep up and while it always entertains, the overall watch gives out a very cold experience, you can not relate to Driver or of the people trying to bring them down, so where does the sympathy hook come from? The characters themselves apart from Driver are just not that interesting. Who cares if the “Killer” is debating to give up this life, and the things he had achieved in the past, so what he is not going to stop Driver because any action fan worth their gold will know this from the off.
The “Twist” at the end surprised me, only because looking back it was so in your face that I feel ashamed never to have noticed and it gave the film a kind of boast in needed to be remembered in my eyes, but the lack of any kind of spark made Faster feel that not special. The plenty of action will delight action junkies and Johnson shows a deft hand at scenes of this nature which will make you wish he make more of these and not the Disney fare he has been wasting his time with.
The lack of any genuine humour makes Faster a real serious dark feature, but unlike films like the underrated Give Them Hell Malone, which offers an old fashioned crime noir, Faster gets by with the same old when what it needed was something to get us all taking and while its a three star film, if you really want to see Johnson back to his brilliant best then remove the e.r. from Fast and add Five, because make no mistake, this solo affair by Dwayne does not reach the heights that the much superior Fast and The Furious sequel manages to in spades.