For its first half hour Faster seems to know exactly what kind of movie it wants to be. A volatile revenge action flick, with energy and style to spare, with two charismatic lead performances at the center. The kind of film the Neveldine Taylor hive mind might make if they gave one wit about storytelling, character, aesthetics, or anything other then injecting their movies with as much mayhem and bad taste.
And then rather abruptly the movie stops knowing what it wants to be, and goes for what I can only describe as The Rock’s Unforgiven. It’s the kind of movie that makes you go, “Huh?” Like the old truism about the dog walking on its hind legs It’s not done well but one is surprised to see it done at all.
But let’s backtrack for a moment. Because there is a lot to like in this movie, principally the charismatic performances at the center by The Rock and Billy Bob Thorton. It’s a welcome return to form for the both of them. The Rock apparently looking at the “Action Movie Star’s Career Trajectory” upside down didn’t realize that he was supposed to make some awesome action movies before taking shit rolls in kid’s films. While Faster isn’t completely successful, it is at least a step in the right direction, in that along with The Rundown, it’s a movie I can contemplate rewatching without flinching.
It is a shame this has taken so long because The Rock is always fun to watch. And I mean that in a very literal way, he’s just fun to look at. During a tense dramatic moment my buddy leaned over to me and whispered “I know I’m supposed to be taking this seriously, but he’s so fucking huge.” If it does nothing else Faster uses that physicality well.
Billy Bob Thorton, who has been lying low for a while now, not sure if I can remember why. Brings his trademark exquisite seediness to the part of “Cop.” Decked out in sleazy seventy leisure clothes, one of the worst toupees in recent memory. Thorton on screen is such a shambling wreck of a man on screen that he can make you forget what a shambling wreck of a man he is in real life.
These two are always fun to watch, no matter what the movie they’re in has them do. Much more problematic is the character the movie refers to as “The Killer” but I will refer to as “The Fancy Gent.” The Fancy Gent is a foppish hit man who starts hunting The Rock. Giving long monologues, and consuming conspicuously, every scene involved carries the underlying message “My isn't this gent Fancy.”
Now The Fancy Gent fits in well enough, when the movie is in Crank mode. Albeit as something that probably looked pretty cool on the page and just died on the screen. But as the movie shifts into Unforgiven mode, the presence of the fancy gent goes from distracting to baffling. Are The Fancy Gent’s martial problems really were the dramatic meat of the story is?
Faster is ultimately one of those movies that I can’t recommend, but wouldn’t really dissuade you from seeing either. It fails, but only because it tries to do too much. Which is always preferable to a movie playing it too safe.