When an action film is called Faster you go in expecting a few things. One thought is a tag line that manages to feebly contextualise its title in some way (“slow justice is no justice”).

Another, probably your first thought, would imagine the film had some reference to driving and you would be partially correct. On this basis you may even expect something that is tense, exciting, hurtling across the screen at a breakneck pace. What you don’t expect is a film that despite a few stylistic tics here and there is more anaemic than it is thrilling.

Things happen. Menacing words are voiced. People are killed. The film ends.

Faster is not a complete wreck of a film, it knows what it wants to be but it’s not very convincing in its attempts. Dwayne Johnson (still fondly remembered as “The Rock”) is introduced as Driver (none of the main characters have real names), an ex-con released from prison who immediately sets out to avenge the death of his big bro after their gang was double-crossed and he was left with a hole in his head.

He’s tracked by a cop who’s called… Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) and an assassin who we’re told is called Killer (Oliver Jackson Cohen), both out to stop Driver for their own reasons that will undoubtedly reveal themselves over the course of the film. The point of swapping their names for monikers is probably a reference to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly but really what it serves is to prove just how hollow and derivative these characters are.

While the harm revenge takes on the soul is an interesting idea that the film portrays very deftly, the characters never effect any sense of interest from the audience. Things happen. Menacing words are voiced. People are killed. The film ends.

…[Faster] never gels as anything more than the sum of its parts

While Johnson jumps back into the role of action man after his family film hiatus, embodying a man who’s a whirling dervish of violence, the rest of the film veers from the dour to the very erratic.

Thornton’s performance is suitably grim as a cop who is a burnt out addict on his way to retirement, but Cohen as the Killer is in a different film entirely. His character may have been designed as a neurotic, egotistical, driven assassin but his storyline is distracting and uninvolving.

Ultimately what sinks Faster are pretensions of being something that’s (semi) serious but in the end is rather timid. It’s not trash but it’s not particularly exciting either, plodding along as humdrum entertainment that gets the blood pumping in a few instances but never gels as anything more than the sum of its parts.

If you’re still thinking about that title, think tortoise rather than hare to get an idea of what to expect.

2 Stars

 

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