Movie Review: Faster

The old saying goes “Revenge is a dish best served cold”, however what happens when on that path to revenge one comes to a self realization of how far would they go to seek revenge and for what real purpose. In the new CBS Studios Film “Faster”, which stars wrestler turned actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (in his return to action films after starring in a string of children’s films) as a recently released prisoner out to seek revenge on those responsibly for his brother’s death, after a failed bank robbery, for which the Johnson’s character Driver served ten years in prison for. The film also stars Billy Bob Thornton as the character Cop, a heroin addicted cop who is set to retire, and while trying to track down and end Driver, tries to hid details of his drug addled past from his colleagues in the police force, and trying to pick up the pieces of his broken family.Oliver Jackson-Cohen plays the third main character in the film “Killer”, who is sent on a mission as a bounty hunter to hunt and kill Driver, but at the same time wants to settle down with his fiance, and end his career as a contract hitman, although he seemingly can’t for various reasons.

The character of Driver is first introduced as a character with no identity and no soul, only bent on one mission– revenge. Early on although it’s not revealed into much later on there are clues to what the basic plot is about, which is hinted in a photograph that Driver carries with him, as well as a hitlist with names. Through the course of the film the character goes from being a symbol of vengeance to a actual human character with personality and emotion, in the process balancing intense action sequences with revelations of character back-story through other characters, only three of whom seem to understand the character’s mission.

It is pretty evident that the writers of the film were inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s film series Kill Bill in crafting the storyline and main character of Driver. The writer’s use many elements from Kill Bill besides the simple plot of getting revenge by murdering a group of people who in the past harmed him and a loved one. From the character’s use of code names to represent identity rather than actual names, the scenes showing Driver’s character driving off to his next target,the hitlist with the name’s crossed out, to showing what happened to the Driver character just before ending up in prison, to the confrontation and showdowns with his “targets” are all indirectly taken from the Kill Bill series. So in essence you can say that Faster is a semi- “male” version of Kill Bill,if the hero in that film would have been male. The film also contains some elements present in the story lines of Usual Suspects,Ninja Assassin, with a hint of Fast and The Furious (in which the Rock is set to star in the next film in that series).

The film’s director George Tillman who is known for his work on the biopic of slain rapper The Notorious B.I.G. “Notorious” as well as Soul Food and Men of Honor, does a pretty good job at bringing out the human side in the characters rather then having them simply serve as one-dimensional, stereotypical cops and killers. Tillman manages to get emotion across by focusing the direction on the character’s facial expressions during character interactions, paying close attention to eye contact and eye movement. Also being a film which is filled with action sequences it is a different turn from his other work such as Notorious and Soul Food, however you can say Men of Honor was good preparation for directing a film like this. About his direction of the film Tillman referenced 70’s action films, in a statement saying, “70s action films have cool heroes but those same heroes also have a dramatic essence;they are complicated characters. I think audiences today yearn for a more sophisticated action film where they can relate to the characters since people by nature are complicated.”

Another point of mention is that the film tries to throw in a few comedic elements with a brief cameo from comedian actor Mike Epps, as well as through some scenes with third lead Oliver Jackson-Cohen’s character “Killer”. Though the film is in no way meant to be funny, the scene with Epps and his comedic timing doesn’t feel forced or out of place in the context of the film.

What makes the film worth seeing is that it is a action film with a actual story, rather than being a simply aimless arrangement of violent, deadly fights, gunplay and car chases. We are made to want to learn more about the characters, which we do, and come away that the characters are neither entirely good or entirely bad, although their actions make them come across as negative. After-all in the beginning a doctor tells Driver he isn’t a bad guy, that he has good in him. I recommend that those who want to see a action film with actual story and substance to check out Faster in theaters now. The film is rated R for scenes of intense violence, and drug use, and has a running time of 98 minutes.

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