Film: 'Faster'; Director: George Tillman Jr.; Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Maggie Grace; Rating: **1/2
If 'Faster' was a book, it would fare miserably. The reason is a shoddy start. However, since it's a film, where the audience is likely to be locked in for two hours, and the fact that it gets better after the initial hiccups, its fate is saved. Or maybe not.
The story is about a man known only as the 'Driver' (Dwayne Johnson). He was shot in the head and left for dead after his brother was killed before his eyes by a double cross during a heist ten years ago. Sadly for the double crossers, he not only survived the bullet, but also attempts on his life in prison. Released, he is now seeking vengeance.
However, it will be easier said than done with an egocentric hitman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and a determined cop (Billy Bob Thornton) hot on his trail.
'Faster' is a vengeance movie modelled on the lines of 'Kill Bill'. Despite its best intentions and some sparks of brilliance with some well conceived scenes and moments of contemplation, overall it fails to raise the stakes.
The casting of Dwayne Johnson as the man with a vendetta is apt. As a stone-hearted man with a plastic face, there isn't much acting required from him. Billy Bob Thornton as the drug addict cop who wants to do one last job and Oliver Jackson-Cohen as the geek who becomes a hitman for pleasure, do a decent job and give the film some of its best moments.
Despite some very good characterisation and handling of some key moments - like when the 'Driver' contemplates killing a repentant man - overall, the many jerks in the screenplay mar what could otherwise have been a really good film. Director George Tillman Jr., who made the commendable biopic of America's first black diver Carl Brashear in 'Men of Honor', could have done with some tighter writing and editing.
Yet, for fans of the ex-WWF star 'The Rock' Dwayne Johnson, this one is a must watch as it turns out to be his best outing as an actor. Of course, for others, his best may not be good enough. It sure isn't for the film.