Special to South Florida Times
At first glance, Faster looks like any other action film. There’s a lone hero, a cop, a detective and a love interest. On closer inspection, it is apparent that director George Tillman Jr. has melded works by Quentin Tarantino and every film Jason Statham has ever been in into a decent action movie.
Driver, played by Dwayne Johnson, has just been released from prison and is on the hunt for the men who killed his brother and helped send him to jail. While on his rampage, Driver is pursued by Killer (played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who is trying to kill him, and Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) who is trying to arrest him.
Sounds simple, right? Actually, it is. The plot is brought to audiences nationwide and abroad, courtesy of screenwriters Tony Gayton and Joe Gayton. These guys obviously know their way around a plot. They, along with Tillman, bring a Western theme to the film. Of course, watching Johnson, known in his former life as “The Rock,” doesn’t hurt either.
Speaking of The Rock, Johnson has gone back to his action roots. He was trying to make himself more diverse and mainstream by trying his talent with family films and comedies. Now that he has shown his leaner side, he’s back to basics. Good deal. The comedies and the family films, while pretty good to watch, didn’t really seem like the right fit. Driver fits Johnson just right, especially in the opening scene, where he’s shirtless and sweaty. I had to fan myself in a cold theater.
Thornton’s Cop is pretty much any other Billy Bob Thornton character seen in the past few years. He’s greasy, cheesy and a mess. While it fits the character, it’s also boring. There doesn’t seem to be much depth to the character, just a messy cop living a messy life, screwing around until retirement.
Jackson-Cohen gives an annoying performance as an assassin who’s so in love with the thrill of things that he can’t sit still. I get that he was born with leg deformities, which were corrected, this making him an adrenaline junkie. But the accent is really annoying. The fact that his inability to kill Driver drives him nuts and pierces his ego is even more annoying. However, Killer has way more depth than Cop. Go figure.
Criticism aside, the Gaytons did juxtapose the three men quite nicely. Cop, Driver and Killer are men who just want to be happy with the women they love, even though they do bad things.
Those significant others include Moon Bloodgood as Marina, Cop’s ex-wife, Maggie Grace as Lily, Killer’s girlfriend, and Jennifer Carpenter as Driver’s ex-lady love. The three women are also unlike each other. However, I can see how their men could fall in love with them.
Mike Epps makes a cameo appearance as Roy Grone, who points Driver in the right directions for his targets. Epps essentially plays any other character he’s ever played.
Carla Gugino plays a major role as Cop’s detective partner. She’s the only one, other than Driver, who figures out the entire mess. Gugino’s character is a strong female presence that is much needed in action films. She wasn’t made into a sex symbol to make the audience sit up and take notice of her. She’s just a great detective.
Lester Speight and his bulging muscles make an appearance as a bad guy and a bouncer named Baphomet. His interaction with Driver is one of the best scenes in the film. Baphomet is clever and pretty tough.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the Evangelist is pretty convincing. Akinnuoye-Agbaje, of Lost fame, ties into the story well, in that he serves as the voice of reason in Driver’s head. He’s also an awesome actor.
The Gaytons and Tillman do have a pretty good movie in Faster. It appeals to men because of the lone gunman Western theme. And it appeals to women because there’s a lot of hot, muscular man candy to admire. Not to mention the Gaytons and Tillman have set themselves up nicely for a sequel. Not bad.
I’d pay to watch Johnson in all his sexiness to do the lone gunman Western thing again. I just hope the next film will have more meaty characters, instead of meaty actors.
Kimberly Grant may be reached at KAliciaG@aol.com.