Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson improves any film by at least 50% with his presence alone. Perfect examples are Walking Tall, Welcome to the Jungle and The Other Guys. All these are perfectly ordinary films but you put Dwayne Johnson in there and they just become more enjoyable. They become more fun. He is a true screen presence and the future of action film stars.
While the Expendables films are taking a good, overdue look at the awesome action stars of the past, Dwayne Johnson is starting his career as a proper action film star. The films I mention above are great, tongue-in-cheek action films but Faster is Dwayne Johnson’s first attempt at a “proper” action film. He is also the reason this film is better than it should be.
Before I carry on with my “I Love Dwayne Johnson” lovefest, I’m going to comment on Faster generally. It isn’t doing anything new or exciting. It is a standard revenge movie, but I love that! Kill Bill, although overly long and drawn out, was a great revenge film. Payback, starring Mel Gibson, is another brilliant revenge movie. If the film can get you rooting for the hero, even if there goal is to murder people, then it is a true, successful revenge film. Faster does that.
This is in no small part to Dwayne Johnson’s quiet, serious and sometimes brutal “Driver.” A great staple of the revenge movie is a character who says little and does nothing but what is necessary. Dwayne is fantastic at that. “The Driver” is a character who has a single mission and only does what is necessary to get his mission completed. He doesn’t make James Bond style wise cracks or lighten the darkness of what he is doing by mocking his enemy. “The Driver” just enters the room, despatches his target, and leaves.
Faster is not just about Dwayne Johnson’s character though. Billy Bob Thornton plays the detective that has to follow and catch “The Driver.” Aptly named “The Cop,” he has a heroin habit and a troubled home life that fleshed out his character slightly more than just the “good guy versus misunderstood good guy.” This probably gives “The Cop” more credit as a character than he deserves but Billy Bob Thornton does a great job and cruises through the part, delivering some great lines and being more than enough of a match for the hero.
Adding to the normal “cat and mouse” dynamic of the film is a character who I believe is designed to be the polar opposite to “The Driver” called “The Killer.” He is a cocky, wise cracking, overly prepared and often outwitted hitman who is assigned to kill “The Driver.” I relished in watching him struggle to match up to the brutal and simple style of “The Driver’s” kills and when they meet up on screen, the confrontations are some of the best moments in the film.
My main criticism of the film would be that “Faster” isn’t an appropriate name. The film gives the impression of being in the same vein as something like “Fast and the Furious” where really it’s much more like Mel Gibson’s Payback. It is a revenge film, following a wronged man as he gets his much deserved vengeance. Apart from the fact that the main character is called “The Driver” and the film rockets along at an extraordinary pace, the title seems a little misleading and irrelevant. I know this film probably isn’t in the same league as something as “Drive” (which I haven’t seen yet) but “The Driver” strikes me as being a much better title.
After watching this I’m excited for what Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson does next. I saw the trailer for the new GI:JOE film which made a great casting choice by recruiting not just Dwayne but also Bruce Willis. Even though I actually liked GI:JOE (1) the prospect of a sequel wasn’t filling me with excitement, that is until I saw the Rock in the trailer. Knowing he is starring in it just fills me with the confidence that it will be at least 50% better than it probably should be.
Overall, Faster is a good film made better by starring Dwayne Johnson. It rockets along at a breathless pace and tells a good story that has you rooting for the star of the show. In my opinion, it also secures Dwayne Johnson as potentially one of the greatest action stars of the future.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)