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Faster: In and Out, No Fuss, Some Muss

by Zach Oat November 24, 2010 6:00 am
<i>Faster</i>: In and Out, No Fuss, Some Muss

Dwayne Johnson's return to action films is long overdue. Aside from his awesome (but tiny) role in The Other Guys, he's been mainly stuck in Disney territory, babysitting kids and flying around on fairy wings. Faster takes him back to his strike zone -- movies like The Rundown, where he can get in knife fights while surrounded by explosions. Except the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Faster is ridiculous, but no fun. It's violent, but in the least creative way possible. People run and drive fast, but it's usually just because they need to get somewhere. And when they drive backwards, it's not clear why. Basically, the story is as monochromatic as the film's palette, which seems to use only two colors, tan and brown.

Johnson plays Driver, a convict about to be paroled. The warden (Tom Berenger cameo!) appreciates that Driver had a hard time inside, and understands what he had to do in self-defense -- judging by the pictures, there was some limb removal involved. But Driver is already mentally gone, and once outside the gates he just starts running, until he reaches a car someone has left for him several miles away. He then climbs in, gets the directions from the glove compartment, a gun from under the seat, and goes to kill someone. And he does, walking into a telemarketer center, shooting a guy in the head, and leaving unhindered. Easy-peasy.

The rest of the movie? Is like that. Next guy on the list. Go there. Shoot him. Leave. In between, we see how these guys wronged Driver, a former getaway driver, and his brother, who was one of the bank robbers. It gets a teeny bit complicated when someone on the list hires a highly trained assassin ("Killer") to kill Driver first, but the assassin is suddenly completely incompetent in the face of Driver, whose strategy is generally to point the gun at somebody and walk towards them shooting it. Killer is so incompetent, in fact, that you have to wonder why he's in the movie at all, or why we care about his relationship with his girlfriend (Maggie Grace), who helps him pick out his guns, but won't marry him until he leaves the business.

Speaking of incompetent, we also get to follow heroin addict cop Cop (that's his name), played with pathetic mastery by Billy Bob Thornton, as he lands Driver's case and must team up with the high-and-mighty Detective Cicero (Carla Gugino). Eventually, they start to get lucky, and develop a grudging respect for each other as they get closer to Driver, who continues to leave every crime scene unmolested and crosses the border into Nevada for at least one kill. Even when the single-shot kill isn't an option, his knife fights are pretty meat-and-potatoes, and there is absolutely no vehicular manslaughter, despite the sweet Chevelle Driver drives. Gyp!

Johnson does fine here, but he has very little dialogue, and mostly just has to point a gun, drive a car and show his scary prison tattoos to people. He gets to look sad a couple of times, but pretty much the only time he shows any personality at all is in the flashbacks, where he's pretending to be a young, scared kid, and then it's kind of hilarious. Mike Epps has a funny cameo as the private eye who tracked everyone down and got Driver the car, but he's literally in it and gone after one scene. Moon Bloodgood plays Cop's ex, who has custody of their kid, although she mostly just shouts at Cop when he shows up late to his son's baseball games, and Maggie Grace's Lost co-star Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays one of the men who has to be killed. Dexter fans should note that Jennifer Carpenter has a very small role as Driver's ex-girlfriend, but since she's on screen for five minutes or less, it's really not that important. Once she's gone, you pretty much forget about her. Not unlike this movie.

Did you see Faster? Let us know what you thought below, then check out our end-of-the-year movie preview!

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