Film Reviews

"Faster" a B-grade Revenge Flick for a Sharp-dressed Dwayne Johnson

Faster is a glossy B made from three twining badmen stories: There’s pneumatically-muscled ex-con “Driver” (Dwayne Johnson), sharp-dressed hitman “Killer” (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), and self-explanatory “Cop” (Billy Bob Thornton). Driver stomps out of prison with a list of the people who put him there and a sworn mission to cross them off, heading for revenge with an implacable stomp.

The archetypal names are pure Walter Hill, the single-minded grudge-mission borrowed from Donald Westlake’s Hunter books—fine antecedents, though director George Tillman Jr.’s style is anything but terse, indulging rote slo-mo swagger set to secondhand musical cues. Driver rips across a comic book-vibrant Southwest in his 5,000-horsepower hardtop Chevelle SS; Cop trails Driver’s trail of payback; Killer follows a contract on Driver. Along the way we learn more about each than is necessarily desirable, downshifting the momentum the title promises and watering down mythic Types with banal personal dramas.

Jackson-Cohen’s share of the plot is particularly extraneous, his faceless nemesis fleshed out with a corny backstory. In the last reel, there’s even a pause in the execution-style headshots to save Driver’s soul, after Tillman Jr. has played every variation on the classic sniper-who-hesitates-after-seeing-target-with-his-kids scene.

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Nick Pinkerton
Contact: Nick Pinkerton