The Rock’s taken a break from action films of late, deciding instead to concentrate on family comedy (last year’s surprisingly decent ‘Tooth Fairy’ and ‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’). It’s something that all muscle-bound leading men go through: Arnold Schwarzenegger did it (‘Junior’, ‘Twins’, ‘Jingle All The Way’) and Vin Diesel tried to do it (‘The Pacifier’); it’s like a rite of passage.
With family comedy done, The Rock’s been talking about how good it is to get back into action roles again and with ‘Fast Five’ released later this year, it looks like he meant what he said. In the meantime, we’re saddled with ‘Faster’, a tepid action movie which will hopefully only be a speed bump on the road to better things.
After 10 years in jail, a man known only as Driver (The Rock) is released. He has only one thing on his mind: to get revenge on the group that double-crossed his gang after a bank heist, killed his brother and left him for dead. After gunning down a man in a crowded office, he soon has not only two cops on his tail but a narcissistic hit man gunning for him too.
For the most part, it does what it says on the tin. The Rock is a mostly silent protagonist, content to lumber on-screen and blows his adversaries away before jumping into a high powered muscle car and depart in a squeal of burnt rubber.
Billy Bob Thornton, usually a welcome presence, doesn’t have anything to get his teeth into; for the most part, he looks as tired as his drug-addled character.
There’s a glimmer of hope that it could flirt with something a bit more interesting early on, when a man refuses to fight Driver after seeing his tattoo, claiming that he’s a ghost.
Could this be the introduction to a vaguely supernatural element a la High Plains Drifter perhaps? Sadly it’s not and The Rock’s soon back on the road, flexing his biceps and shooting people in the head like he was popping down the shops.
There’s also the potential for intrigue in egomaniacal hitman Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who after doing handstands in his underwear and harping on about life not being challenging enough, is dispatched on Driver’s tail.
But it mostly feels like his character’s wandered in from another movie as his background is inconsequential (a prominent scar on his leg is meant to make us feel what exactly?) and he’s relegated to a trivial annoyance with little bearing on the main plot.
It’s all wrapped up in a predictable package that fails to ignite anything but the faintest interest. The main character might be called Driver but ‘Faster’ is a largely pedestrian affair that offers few thrills and fewer surprises.