“Faster” is a movie about a man, a car, a gun, and a list of names. The car is a ’71 Chevelle SS. The gun is a Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan .454. This is not a movie I’d take my wife to. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the man, who gets out of prison with revenge on his mind. I’ve got to hand it to Johnson; everything about this movie says “badass,” and it would be acceptable – and easy – to play his character with the imperturbable coolness (and woodenness) of a Charles Bronson or Steven Seagal. Instead, he looks like a man barely containing his pain and fury. He hardly has ten lines in the movie, but he communicates with his face and posture, like a real actor would. Not that there’s a terrible lot to communicate.
There’s a cop, played by Billy Bob Thornton, or rather, his costume designer, who has done him up in corduroys and butterfly collars. The wardrobe does more than the actor with the role. He’s 10 days from retirement, hooked on junk, and just trying to stay alive until the end of the movie. He’s also centrally involved in the film’s major twist, which you’ll see coming a mile away, but I won’t give it away just to be nice and make you feel smart.
There’s also an assasin, though he’s a weird bird for sure. When we first meet him, he’s in the process of an impossibly difficult yoga routine, while his impossibly beautiful girlfriend sleeps upstairs. He wakes her up to tell her he’s “beaten” yoga, and won’t be doing it anymore. Thus, he’s in the market for a new challenge. His psychotherapist (oh, yeah, he totally has one) convinces him to get married and start a family, because being an international hit man isn’t difficult or thrilling enough for him. Now how do you like that –a Man film, a film that stars a pro wrestler and co-stars his car, slyly suggesting that staying in a relationship and raising a family might be more challenging and rewarding than chasing bad guys in fast cars with big guns. Didn’t see that coming.
When the assassin meets Johnson, he calls his girlfriend and geeks out. “The guy is completely artless – but pure.” And that’s a pretty good description of “Faster.” It plays like a Quentin Tarantino film, but without the irony. This is a movie built on the premise that Man+Gun+Car=Movie. And it because it doesn’t try to add any frills or be all clever or profound it actually works. No it’s not a great film. Like “Burlesque,” it’s not going to win any Oscars. But also like the chick flick I wrote about above, it delivers just what it promises.