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COMMENT





Faster one cliché after another
By KEVIN WILLIAMSON - QMI Agency


In Faster, the clichés -- er, characters -- aren't named, they're labelled. (Better to keep track of them that way.)

Thus, Dwayne Johnson's vengeful ex-con is identified as "Driver." Billy Bob Thornton's smack-scoring detective is called "Cop." When a Euro-accented assassin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is introduced, it's only as "Killer."

Apparently the filmmakers never got around to hiring "Writer."

Which probably explains why most of the scenes in the film can be described as "Car Chase," "Tortured Grimace into Rearview Mirror" and the oft-repeated "Bullet to the Head."

We meet Driver as he's about to be released from prison after 10 years behind bars -- a tattooed, monosyllabic freight train with a simple, near-religious mission. Which is? To avenge his brother's death, naturally.

A decade earlier, their crew of bank robbers was attacked by rival miscreants and, with the exception of Driver, slain.

Now free, our anti-hero sets out in his mint-condition Chevelle SS for payback, tracking down the murderers in question, one by one.

From this plot summary you might expect an energetic, if generic, action yarn. Predictable, sure, but amounting to adrenalized pulp fiction nevertheless. Faster, though, never releases the parking brake. It may be bloody, but it's also absurd and plodding. And while Driver may approach his goal with shark-like single-mindedness, the film itself is distracted by a multitude of mystifying and murky subplots.

Thornton's Cop, for example, is one moment buying heroin, the next showing up to team with Carla Gugino to investigate Driver's series of killings. Does it really need to be said that Gugino is less than thrilled about working with a burnout -- or that Cop is a mere 10 days from his retirement?

Also on Driver's trail? Jackson-Cohen's aforementioned Killer, a laughable creation who, when he's not whacking people, is practising yoga and vacillating over his relationship with a gorgeous blond played by Maggie Grace. At one point, he's even consulting with a therapist over his malaise. Again, what does this have to do with anything?

For Johnson, Faster marks a getaway from the family film genre he has toiled in the past few years with The Game Plan, Race To Witch Mountain and The Tooth Fairy. And it's clear the man once hyped as the heir apparent to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone is tailor-suited for the force-of-nature Driver (even if he, perhaps unwisely, stamps down his own easy-going appeal for the dark, stoic role).

Yet even Johnson's presence can't pump up a movie that offers depressingly little excitement. The action sequences -- the crux of things -- are noisy and brutal, but uninspired. None of the confrontations are especially visceral or even memorable.

And the less said about the pretentious Biblical references (Christian radio is played, sermons are spouted, scriptures are quoted), the better.

So much for lead-footed. Faster is just leaden.

(This film is rated 14A)

RELATED LINKS

  • The Rock bio and story archive
  • The SLAM! Wrestling Movie Database