Review of FASTER
Slow and steady
Dir- George Tillman Jr.
Cast- Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Carla Gugino, Maggie Grace, Moon Bloodgood and Adewale Akkinuoye-Akbaje
Rating- *** Â½
Faster is an odd title for a film that is anything but fast. The poster, with WWF wrestler The Rock posturing in all his tattooed glory, promises an action-packed film. And when you see Dwayne â€˜The Rockâ€™ Johnsonâ€™s character emerging out of a prison, running along a deserted stretch, getting behind the wheels of a vintage car and being introduced to the audience simply as the â€˜Driverâ€™â€¦ you naturally assume that the next two hours will be one helluva, if predictable, action ride. That it is unpredictably not is both a pleasant surprise and a sad testament to marketing strategies selling a right film the wrong way.
Faster is a lean, almost non-verbal action film that has at its pulp intense violence, but of the emotional kind. Men get bumped off yes, but what dies is the soul in each instance. Driver (Dwayne Johnson) is out to get the people who killed his brother and his gang of bank robbers. This one line is the whole script of Faster! But writers Tony & Joe Gayton, rather than fashioning an easy male version of Kill Bill, opt instead to offer a triumvirate so that there is more than one surrogate for the audience to invest its sympathies with.
On the trail of Driver then are a Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) and a Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Through some very effective and non-fat character development devices, we learn of the Copâ€™s troubled tryst with narcotics and the Killerâ€™s need to overcompensate an underachieving childhood. The paths of these three do not collide until the climax, but they are all on the same trajectory for the length of the narrative. This offers a fascinating exploration of what drives each one of them. Driver is an almost mute, stone-faced man on a mission with nary a moment to share courtesies even. Killer meanwhile is teetering on the brink of a mental breakdown where he is unsure whether he wants to continue killing to fuel his ego or settle for a married life with lady love Lily (Maggie Grace).
It is Billy Bobâ€™s Cop that is the most fascinating of all. With just days left to his retirement, Cop is trying to get his wife (Moon Bloodgood) to take him back so he can be a father to his son again, and they a family. That both Cop and his wife battle with drug addiction makes their fates all the more poignant and ultimately doomed. Billy Bob supplies this character with a certain weariness that seems to organically stem from his own persona. His tired, regretful presence acts as a lovely contrast to Jackson-Cohenâ€™s suave and handsome Killer. The young British actor makes a terrific debut with a character that can have his own separate film.
The Rock, in face of these supporting players, is the lead only by way of a technicality. Despite having the least spoken time, Johnson uses his muscular physique and rocklike gait to good effect in presenting a man that is a walking ghost. After all, men of action speak very little. With a resolution that provides zero closure and leaves you conflicted, Faster is that rare action film that gives you more than what youâ€™d have expected.
- Abhishek Bandekar