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Faster

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Posted 26th March 2014 at 03:06 PM by Bringer Of Funerals
Updated 3rd April 2014 at 05:05 PM by Bringer Of Funerals

An ex-con sets out to avenge his brother's death after they were double-crossed during a heist years ago. During his campaign, however, he's tracked by a veteran cop and an egocentric hit man.

Revenge isn't a dish best served cold, it's a dish best served up by The Rock. Faster is the latest from the musclebound wrestler-turned-Action star, and it's a fast, no-nonsense, hard-hitting Action flick that's almost all about payback, justice, big guns, fast cars, pumped muscles, and relentless mayhem. The film opens with a shot of The Rock's voluminous chest; it's no surprise, then, what's to follow, but Faster proves to be more than an everyday slick Action vehicle. A mindless entertainment fašade is counterbalanced by involved and rather complex characters, at least for a movie like this, which gives Faster a substance so often missing from the everyday sort of enjoyable but ultimately unfulfilling Action fare that's exciting while it's on but absolutely forgettable once the film draws to an end. Faster isn't some sort of cinematic revelation, but it's better than movies like this generally tend to be; it's smart for an Action picture, it's characters are well-developed, and while there aren't any real plot surprises, there is the surprise of a movie that takes itself and its audience a bit more seriously than most. Faster definitely delivers plenty of bang for the buck, not only in its big action scenes and strings of hard-hitting violence, but in its sincerity in trying to build a better Action movie.

"Driver" (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) has just been released from prison after 10 years in the joint for his part in a daring bank robbery. He picks up a car, a hitlist, and a gun, and sets out to take revenge on the people who were involved in the killing of his brother following the robbery. While Driver is piecing together the bloody final moments before his brother's death and his incarceration, an on-the-edge and close-to-retirement cop (Billy Bob Thornton) finds himself on the case of Driver's first killing. Meanwhile, a professional hitman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who only wants to settle down and start a family with his girlfriend (Maggie Grace) has been hired to take out Driver at all costs before he reaches the end of his list. With the lead flying and Driver crossing names off his list with every bloody encounter, both the cop and the hitman close in on Driver and come closer to realizing their own destinies.

Stylistically, Faster is a throwback Action movie; it's as dark and gritty as the best 70s revenge flicks, and it's as loud and powerful as the finest 1980s fare. It's a nonstop thrill ride that's unafraid of big guns, high stakes, intense shootouts, slick driving, and relentless pacing, all typical Action hallmarks that, while the core of any genre movie worth its weight in muscle and lead, does leave something to be desired after the 500th time seeing the same movie only with different stars and altered locations. Fortunately, Faster has more to offer beyond the typical run-and-gun fare that's generally the singular focus of the typical genre picture. Director George Tillman, Jr.'s film manages to find an emotional center and thematic core, the likes of which are rarities in the world adrenaline-charged action, while also demonstrating wonderful balance between quality of story, depth of characters, visual mood, and strength of action. Tillman's picture is superbly crafted from top to bottom; his eye for a gritty, dark, and unforgiving tone is at the center of the film's visual style, which meshes nicely with a primary character roster that's anything but of the cardboard cutout variety. The characters of Faster are complex rather than one-dimensional, a critical factor in elevating this Action movie from the typical brainless run-and-gun variety.

Tillman makes the movie a personal journey, one with no real heroes or villains but nevertheless one audiences can relate to not only through the dark world of violence and revenge but in the very real characters that populate it, all of whom are in many ways flawed but only some fundamentally so. Faster is more than a black-and-white picture in terms of its thematic center; it's a structurally complex and immensely satisfying journey of one man's quest for revenge and the shape his life takes along the way while also doing more than is necessary to make a movie that also works on a base level with plenty of high-octane action and stylistically gritty violence on hand.

Not only does Faster deliver a story with more character than the typical Action movie, it seems poised to serve as a right-of-passage sort of movie for its star. Indeed, The Rock proves his worth in Faster as an Action star ready for a serious breakout from midlevel Action films to pictures with serious potential to redefine the genre, much as was the case with any number of Arnold Schwarzenegger pictures from the 1980s. The Rock seems well on his way to becoming the next Arnold Schwarzenegger; while the quality of his projects have yet to reach the levels of films like Conan the Barbarian, The Rock's acting chops just might be superior to those of the 1980s biggest Action icon, and his physical stature is almost as intimidating. Faster seems like the perfect transitional movie for The Rock, a film that allows him to showcase not just his physical dominance but his ability to turn in a performance of greater complexity than what most Action movies only require -- to merely pump up before each shot and menacingly fire a gun.
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