You know what makes me so mad I could spend years plotting myelaborate, blood-soaked, unstoppable revenge?
I recognize that my two chief complaints about them — a) no one in thehistory of people has ever broken into an orchestrated song abouttheir problems and feelings, and b) repeatedly stopping cold forfour-minute song-and-dance sessions completely destroys a movie'smomentum — are irrelevant.
If you're a fan of musicals, I'm not sayingyou're wrong. I'm just saying if the abstract concept ofmusicals were personified, I would arm myself until I couldn't movewithout the assistance of an electric scooter and hunt those criminalsdown until the world ran out of shotgun shells.
Every revenge story since the tale of the amoeba that killed the otheramoeba's amoebafriend tells me I wouldn't actually enjoy it. That Iwould, ultimately, find no satisfaction in my brutal and relentlessquest. But I think I'd have such a grand old time I'd have to singabout it no matter what modern revenge pieces like Faster haveto say.
Ten years ago, Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson was the driver for a bankjob. They got away, but were set up by another crew; Johnson wasarrested, his brother stabbed to death.
Now Johnson's released from prison. He's out to hunt down hisbrother's killers one by one. Only three people might be able to stophim: junkie cop Billy Bob Thornton and his unwilling partner CarlaGugino, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen, an impeccable hitman who's never methis match.
Will he meet that match in Johnson? Oh, he just might. BecauseJohnson — ah, screw it. I don't care how IMDb credits him, I'm stillcalling him the Rock. And if he doesn't like it, he can...rememberthere are laws against assault and murder and please don't hurt me,Mr. Rock. I intend it solely as a term of well-earned respect.
Because the Rock has presence. When he walks into a room, he makeseveryone else in the room look like a bunch of gnomes, toddlers andGollums. Director George Tillman Jr. plays that to the hilt, filmingthe Rock from low angles that suggest he's so huge he shouldn't bewalking through doors at all, just bursting through Rock-shaped holesthrough the walls.
It's a testament to that presence that he can still drum up interestin his character despite doing very little other than striding throughdoors, shooting people with a revolver the size of a record-holdingburrito, and tooling across empty desert roads. Faster is arevenge flick, and in revenge flicks, you learn one thing: shootingthe wicked is cool. Wait, you learn two things: the shootingthing, and that no amount of wicked-person-shooting, no matter howcool it may be, will bring back the one you're avenging/fill the voidin your soul.
Writers Tony and Joe Gayton do try to mix things up. Jackson-Cohen'shitman is an odd figure, driven not by money but by a pathologicalcompulsion to conquer everything he tries, including yoga. It's aninteresting concept that never really lives up to its potential.
Same thing for Faster as a whole. Tillman handles hishard-shootin', hard-drivin' scenes well enough. There's a bit ofhumor. Thornton wafts some of the decay away from his role as asubstance-abusing, ex-wife-having cop who's two weeks from retirementbut wants to take care of one last big case even if it means buttingheads with his new partner. (In a surprise move, his captain doesnot yell at him for being a loose cannon.) The plot throws acouple curves, but we're not talking Felix Hernandez-level breakingballs.
Faster is good enough to be entertaining. But despite thepotential its creators are flashing for future works, this time,they've just come away with a watchable movie that doesn't stand outfrom its genre buddies.