Review: FASTER (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Review: FASTER (2010)


With a title like FASTER, a kick-ass poster, and an equally captivating tagline that reads "Slow Justice is No Justice", you can almost bet that Dwayne Johnson's long-awaited return to an action-packed role after a short stint of Disney comedies and dramas, is his definitive comeback as well as something that action fans really like to look forward to. Well, at least the beginning of the set up delivers in a very promising manner -- a convict known only as Driver (Johnson) gets out of prison after ten years. Accompanied with a kick-ass theme song of "Good-bye My Friend" by Guido and Maurizio De Angeles (which is taken from a 70s Franco Nero's Italian crime movie called STREET LAW), he wastes no time by running across the freeway under the scorching heat before finally picking up a sweet-looking muscle car. Inside his car, he has a big revolver with big bullets, and a list of names of people he's going to kill. He drives off his car straight off to locate his first target. Once there, he walks into a building and puts a bullet hole in the head of an unsuspecting guy (Courtney Gaines) before leaving the scene. What a dramatic opening scene to begin with, but what follows next, is a surprisingly slow-burning plot that doesn't particularly justify the title at all.

Once the real plot kicks in, it's quite a downhill from here -- a veteran cop (Billy Bob Thornton) who is just ten days shy from his retirement, is called upon a murder investigation to work alongside with a no-nonsense detective Cicero (Carla Gugino). In the meantime, a hotshot killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is hired to track down Driver and kills him. But he has a psychological issue of his own, and his hot girlfriend, Lily (Maggie Grace) is hoping that he will stops killing so they can have a fresh start. As for Driver, he continues to track down the remaining people he wants to kill in the list, only to be subsequently sidetracked by the cop and the killer along the way.

From the look and feel of the movie, there's no denying that Joe and Tony Gayton's screenplay and George Tillman, Jr.'s direction pays homage to the 70s exploitation bad-ass revenge cinema. Too bad the word "bad-ass" alone isn't enough to justify this entire whole. The movie could have been leaner and far more interesting if George Tillman, Jr. chooses to play it straightforward. But he tries so hard to be ambitious, and clearly wants to make Driver's appetite is not just about all-out vengeance but a road to redemption as well. If that's not enough, it's also a few more subplots about the cop's inner struggle with his personal demon as well as his shaky relationship with his estranged wife (Moon Bloodgood). Topped up with that is another story about the killer and his girlfriend. The result is a long-winded drag that ruins the momentum of the story. Frankly, the whole subplot thing is really unnecessary, especially when it doesn't help much to build a better movie here.

As for the action, there are some gritty moments here but again George Tillman, Jr. just doesn't know how to make full use of Dwayne Johnson's physique and his action-movie role charisma to elaborate the action set-pieces than just an occasional simple shootout.

The ending is especially disappointing, with lack of central villain to root for. What's worse is the bloated third-act twist that reveals the true mastermind behind Driver's imprisonment. Seriously though, is it really that necessary?

FASTER is actually a hugely potential movie to bring back the glory day of action-packed genre but George Tillman, Jr. just hit too many ideas for all the wrong reasons. Even though Dwayne Johnson lives up to his credit playing an ideal character who have nothing to lose, nothing really matters anyway since he's given little opportunity to realize his full potential.

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