By Tony, on November 21st, 2010
George Tillman Jr.’s Faster is a timid rush of adrenaline. A slow brew of Dwayne Johnson exiting his sentence to hop into a muscle race with beautiful orchestrated shots, and a well-controlled, well-esteemed attempt to capture the ferocious steam omitted from Johnson’s take of a Clint Eastwood man-with-no-name type.
The film is an exact take-off of a Western. With much of the films of today taking, not only page by page rips from the handbooks of these films, Faster follows the trend greatly. Sergio Leone is felt all throughout the piece, so much that when the three main characters are introduced, they have a credit appear for “Killer” and “Cop.” Much the same way that Leone used for his set up of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It seems to be a trend these days – urbanized versions of the deserted town with a corrupt lawman theme, and a lone man in a cluttered city, with a devilish drug lord criminal type, with roots stemming from the side arm swinging doors of a tavern. For example, John Singleton’s Four Brothers was a remake of The Sons of Katie Elder - a returning outlaw with a firearm not taking no for an answer, but yet this formula carries over seemingly well.
Another odd nod seems to come from Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve. The Killer is a young skilled assassin, and also well-versed and accomplished in other fields. from his many well displayed photographs on his walls in his fine abode, but always giving a grimace when he notices the picture of his legs in restraints. This pushes him on and thrives to be the best at his newest hobby. Similar to the Fox from Ocean’s Twelve, he practices a dancing type yoga to some jazzy hip hop house music, while he flairs his legs about to demonstrate his agility. He is a very handsome actor, but the weakest character that feels out of place. Hurt stomach attempting to hold back laughs, as he is tailing Johnson whom he is hired to kill, and is speaking with his shrink. She gives him advice to marry his girlfriend, which he accepts, and follows Johnson further.
After a lovely and gorgeous gun battle, he decides to marry his girlfriend in a quick but lavish wedding. But after vying to leave the mark alone, he just can’t, because he stumbles upon that photo of him as the kid, and rubs that scar and off he goes.
The Cop played by Billy Bob Thorton, with an awkward slight piece of hair that slides down on his face in a weird piece of bangs, is a reformed hardened man. With only 10 days to his retirement he attempts to tie up some loose ends, one being repairing his relationship with his wife who was an informant for him a decade previous. This last case of the slaying of an office worker with a sketchy past is to be his last one. Our introduction to him is one of a man trying to buy smack with crumpled bills, and shooting up in his car, after which he cascades across the floor in slow motion with the track MY CONDITION, which is a bold choice of song as the Coen Brothers used it to perfection in The Big Lebowski, and almost distracts you into a flashback thought of that film. Yet as Thorton glides boots across carpet with a close on his shoes he comes in with badge holstered up and in slow motion, when the title card blazes across, COP.
The Rock, Dwayne Johnson is the ultimate new age badass. After serving up ass whoopings on the Wrestling show with a stone cold snare and a turned up cocky campy look, he turns that in for the ice-cold stare of vengeance. Barreling down those that wronged him, they quiver where they stand, and when you have this large bold force, who is literally a ghost from your past, coming to dispense your toe tag while standing in your way, you can do nothing else but shiver in your shoes. As soon as he hones in on his adversary, they are gone within moments. He is hell-bent on exacting his revenge for those that killed his brother and had a hand in doing so. Just as swiftly and quickly as they served it to him he does so just as fast, but Faster (ew, did I just write that.) Oh well, that’s the kind of film it is. Springing off from a slip of names given to him by Mike Epps, he is on his one-man mission.
Though the story was a bit bleak and lackluster, and at times weighed down by exposition, prying into the characters of the other two in the story arc, and unnecessary wedding of the Killer, the film is a bit slow for a fast paced actioner.
A scene that takes places in the basement is quite a sight and a glimpse at what they were able to achieve with lighting on celluloid.
The finale takes place with the last name on Johnson’s “to get” list, which goes down in a church. The set ups and the cinematography are something to marvel at, but the material is so thin & basic. Possibly I’m asking a bit too much of a straight up shoot ‘em up type film, but even for that genre it skimps out on that a bit. But the final showdown between the good and the bad is a nice closing matter.
Tillman Jr.’s assured hand behind the wheel, coupled with the incredible force that is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson fueling the gas, is a sure ride. Glad to see him back after first attracting attention in his esteemed feature debut, Soul Food, since then directing only two films in between. Soul Food was a great picture that caught the audience all the way through. With Faster he seems to have steered back on course. Granted a few road bumps but there is evidence of a focused vision present.