Faster: As Simple And Straightforward As Its Title Implies

24 11 2010

George Tillman, Jr. directs Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton and Oliver Jackson-Cohen in the high-octane action thriller Faster. Here’s the breakdown:

After his release from jail, ‘The Driver’ (Johnson) sets out on a killing spree, seeking to avenge the horrible murder of his brother. He soon realizes he’s being tracked by a veteran cop (Thornton) and an obsessive assassin (Jackson-Cohen).

The Monkey: From the very beginning, Faster makes no effort to try and be anything it’s not: an in-your-face, fast-paced action/revenge thriller. It was refreshing to see Johnson return to form, as a quiet, menacing presence after his recent slew of family-friendly fare. He growls his lines, fires his gun and throws his muscle car into gear with all the necessary scowling and machismo you’d expect. The movie’s over-the-top approach hints at the films of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino and while not nearly as stylistic, Faster will definitely appeal to fans of these filmmakers.

Johnson was really the movie’s McGuffin, a stone thrown into the pond, forcing Thornton’s and Jackson-Cohen’s characters to respond. Thornton played pretty true to type as the greasy, drug-addled cop mere days away from retirement. A sub-plot involving his struggling relationship with his wife and son was well-written and gave him a second layer not often seen in mindless action movies. Similarly, Jackson-Cohen played the obsessive assassin with all the British-accented menace required. His subplot involved a relationship with a girlfriend, a relationship that could make him finally settle down. Each of the three characters were interesting in their own right and brought something unique to the movie as a whole.

The Weasel: Three major plot threads are hard to flesh out effectively and Faster struggles to accomplish cohesion. Johnson’s and Thornton’s characters are most closely tied and their stories work together nicely. But the assassin plot thread, while the most intriguing of the three (there was even further backstory hinted at: he overcame Polio, he was an extreme sportsman, etc.), it ultimately felt out of place within the rest of the story.

It was interesting to see Johnson play such a stoic character who was so single-minded and formed the change catalyst for the other characters – but as the movie progressed, this approach to ‘The Driver’ character was abandoned for a more traditional action/hero: he gets more lines, he starts to get a conscience, etc. He went from one-dimensional revenge seeker (which, in this case, was a positive), to a half-realized character with too many proposed facets to be successful. Attempting a character transformation and a traditional character arc halfway through a movie isn’t the best idea.

A solid action movie with Johnson delivering the kick and Thornton delivering the drama, not to mention a nicely written twist. Unfortunately, with the addition of unnecessary characters and conventional character arcs, Faster runs out of gas towards the end.

3.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Did you think the assassin plot thread was out of place? Would you have preferred Johnson remained the one-dimensional killer or did you like the attempted character transformation? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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2 responses

29 11 2010

I think you stated it better than I did…”Three major plot threads are hard to flesh out effectively and Faster struggles to accomplish cohesion…the assassin plot thread….ultimately felt out of place within the rest of the story.”

His story consumed almost the majority of the film. I didn’t care for that. Nicely put, Dustin! And you are right! Johnson’s acting/character actually did justice to the film. A lot better than his role in The Tooth Fairy! haha

29 11 2010

Haven’t seen ‘Tooth Fairy’ but I have to imagine it wasn’t Oscar-worthy, ha! The assassin character would make an interesting movie on its own maybe…but agreed, just too much for this one.

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